His name may conjure images of a nerdy librarian, but Ormer Locklear was a true daredevil, a stunt-flying pioneer. Trained in the United States Army Air Service (the forerunner of today's Air Force) during World War I, he later toured the country as a newly popular type of entertainer: a barnstormer. Performing death-defying aerial feats netted him up to $3,000 a show [source: Onkst]. According to legend, Locklear pioneered the act of wing walking when he needed to screw the cap on his plane's radiator while in flight [source: University of Texas]. He's also credited with inventing the mid-air transfer — hopping from his own plane to another — and may have originated the feat of boarding a moving plane from a racing automobile [source: Onkst].
Locklear's celebrity quickly led to stardom in another burgeoning entertainment field: motion pictures. He headlined "The Great Air Robbery" in 1919, and began work on "The Skywayman" in 1920. On the night of Aug. 2, in the last stunt planned for that film's shooting schedule, Locklear performed a tailspin aptly named a "suicide dive" [source: Golden]. Searchlights, needed for filming in the dark, should have been turned off so that Locklear would be able to see and safely pull out of the dive. They were not. Either blinded or having lost his bearings, Locklear crashed and was killed on impact. He was 28 years old.