A Gallery of postcards, ephemera, and collectibles from the Iowa State Fair
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28C. Daredevil Pilot Lincoln Beachey
Era: 1908-1915   Publisher: N/A 

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Lincoln Beachey, one of the most popular daredevil aviators, was paid $1,000 a day to appear at the 1914 Iowa State Fair. He made daily exhibitions before crowded grandstands. One spectacular stunt was his “Death Dive”, where he turned his plane upside down at 4,000 feet, then dove straight down towards the ground at full speed before pulling up at the last second. Beachey, who always wore a suit during exhibitions, was the first aviator to fly upside down, and the first to perform the “loop-the loop” in America. Orville Wright once referred to him as "the greatest aviator of them all.” Beachey entertained more than 17 million people in 126 cities from November 1913 to November 1914, and earned an estimated $250,000. In an interview in Des Moines, Beachey said he would quit when he made a million dollars, providing he wasn’t made to quit before “due to a flaw in the steel or a weak support in his machine.” He said if his “end comes by a drop in the sky”, he wants it to be a “big drop and a quick stop.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened six months later. He was killed on March 14, 1915, while he was flying a newly designed monoplane at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. While performing a stunt dive, the wings on his airplane broke away, and he dove at full speed into San Francisco Bay. He was only 28.

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