40 year celebration of Bronson Potter’s trestle airplane stunt

A long shot of Bronson Potter’s plane flying underneath the Greenville railroad trestle on Sunday, July 22, 1979. To mark the event’s 40th anniversary, the world premiere of recently rediscovered home movie film of Potter’s stunt will be held on Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Mason Elementary School, 13 Darling Hill Road, Mason, N.H. The program is free and the public is invited; sharing of Bronson Potter stories are encouraged.

Mason, N.H. to host world premiere of long-lost movie footage of legendary local airplane stunt

Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m.
Mason Elementary
13 Darling Hill Road
Mason, N.H.

Sponsored by:

TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2019 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jrapsis@nhahs.org

Mason, N.H. airplane stunt film premiere moved to larger venue to accommodate interest 

All invited to share recollections of eccentric inventor/pilot Bronson Potter and ‘The Great Greenville Trestle Fly-Under’ on Friday, Aug. 9 at Mason Elementary School 

MASON, N.H.—It was a highlight of the summer of 1979: an aerial stunt that attracted crowds from throughout the region.

It was a local pilot’s daring flight under the huge railroad trestle that once spanned the Souhegan River in Greenville.

The spectacular feat took place on Sunday, July 22, 1979, and those who saw “The Great Greenville Trestle Fly-Under” will not soon forget. 

Now, 40 years later, the rest of us can experience local inventor/pilot Bronson Potter’s legendary feat, as motion picture footage of the event has surfaced.

Taken by local resident Dave Morrison, the long unseen 8mm home movie footage will receive its public world premiere showing on Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Mason Elementary School, 13 Darling Hill Road, Mason, N.H.
The location is across the road from the original venue, Mason Town Hall, which is too small to accommodate anticipated interest in the event.

“We’ve had so many people say they’d like to attend, and so we had to upgrade to the school’s multi-purpose room,” said Jeff Rapsis of the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, which is organizing the event.

The program is free and the public is invited. Donations will be accepted to help defray expenses. 

The event is sponsored by Monadnock Security Systems, Inc. of Mason; G.W. Shaw & Son of Greenville; Kim Hemmer of EdwardJones, Milford; the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, the Mason Conservation Commission, and Back Lot Films.

The evening will be hosted by Rapsis, the Aviation Museum’s executive director. 

Organizers hoped to project the original 8mm film at the premiere, but proved impractical for a large venue. Instead, the footage has been transferred to DVD and will be shown using a digital projector. 

The film, which lasts about five minutes, contains scenes of pilot Bronson Potter flying several practice runs towards the bridge while spectators watched on nearby Route 31. 

It then captures the daring run under the trestle, for which Potter had to fly through a narrow space between a metal support tower and a solid granite pillar. 

At the time, pictures of Potter’s plane zipping under the trestle made newspapers around the region. The publicity led the FAA to temporarily suspend Potter’s pilot’s license.

The film has no soundtrack; live music will be provided by Rapsis, who accompanies silent film programs each month at WIlton’s Town Hall Theatre. 

The railroad trestle, once the highest in the state, was taken down in 1984 after the Boston & Maine railroad abandoned the line to Greenville. 

One reason for the event is that the Aviation Museum would like to collect a more complete picture of why Potter flew under the bridge, what happened afterwards, and all the details that some people may know but which aren’t available in one place.

“We hope to mine the collective memory bank of the Mason and Greenville communities and put together a full account of this interesting avaition sidelight,” Rapsis said.

Local residents who attend will be encouraged to share recollections and stories about Potter, a long-time Mason resident and eccentric inventor who died in 2004. His gravestone features a carved image of his plane flying beneath the towering trestle.

Potter, a Harvard graduate and electronics innovator in his younger years, lived much of his life in Mason. After his death, he bequeathed more than 500 acres of land to the Mason Conservation Commission, the largest such gift in the town’s history. 

To help preserve memories and stories of Bronson Potter, local filmmaker Bill Millios will be on hand to arrange for interviews with residents; the footage will be used by the Aviation Museum to create a mini-documentary about Potter and his legendary stunt.

Although the trestle was dismantled, the granite abutments still tower over the Souhegan. Using a drone-mounted camera, Millios plans to recreate Potter’s daring flight near the granite pillar from the pilot’s eye-view. 

Music for the evening will be provided by The Dirty Double Crossers, a local bluegrass band. 

The world premiere of recently rediscovered home movie film of Bronson Potter’s 1979 Greenville Trestle Fly-Under will be held on Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Mason Elementary School, 13 Darling Hill Road, Mason, N.H. The program is free and the public is invited; sharing of Bronson Potter stories will be encouraged.

IMAGE CAPTIONS:

IMAGE A:
On July 22, 1979, Mason resident Bronson Potter flies his plane under the Greenville railroad trestle, thrilling spectators and prompting the FAA to revoke his pilot’s license. To mark the event’s 40th anniversary, the world premiere of recently rediscovered home movie film of Potter’s stunt will be held on Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Mason Elementary School, 13 Darling Hill Road, Mason, N.H. The program is free and the public is invited; sharing of Bronson Potter stories will be encouraged. Photo by Tim Berry.

IMAGE B:
Mason resident Bronson Potter, who in 1979 made headlines by flying his private plane under the Greenville railroad trestle, thrilling spectators and prompting the FAA to revoke his pilot’s license. To mark the event’s 40th anniversary, the world premiere of recently rediscovered home movie film of Potter’s stunt will be held on Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Mason Elementary School, 13 Darling Hill Road, Mason, N.H. The program is free and the public is invited; sharing of Bronson Potter stories will be encouraged.

IMAGE C:
The gravestone of Mason resident Bronson Potter, who died in 2004, includes a depiction of the local pilot’s infamous 1979 flight under the Greenville railroad trestle. To mark its the stunt’s 40th anniversary, the world premiere of recently rediscovered home movie film of Potter’s stunt will be held on Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Mason Elementary School, 13 Darling Hill Road, Mason, N.H. The program is free and the public is invited; sharing of Bronson Potter stories will be encouraged. John Poltrack Photo.

For more info, contact:
Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jrapsis@nhahs.org
More high-resolution digital images available upon request.