To Paul Mantz, stunt flying was a natural calling. The legendary aviator even lost his spot at the U.S. Army flight school when he buzzed over a train filled with high-ranking officers to show off his skills.
It seemed only fitting that Mantz would later land a role in the 1932 movie "Air Mail," in which he flew a biplane through a hangar not much bigger than the aircraft itself. He appeared in numerous films through the years, including "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "Twelve O'Clock High" and "The Wings of Eagles."
On July 8, 1965, Mantz was killed while performing a stunt for "The Flight of the Phoenix," which he came out of retirement to film. Flying over an Arizona desert site, Mantz's plane struck a hill and broke into pieces, killing the famous aviator immediately. Because the majority of the movie had already been shot, filmmakers were able to substitute another plane for some remaining close-ups, and "The Flight of the Phoenix" was released later that year [source: The Internet Movie Database].