Rediscovered film of N.H pilot's stunt flight under trestle to be screened at Aviation Museum
Live music to accompany footage; Movie Night program on Friday, Sept. 20 includes 'Flying Luck,' vintage aviation comedy
LONDONDERRY, 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 an enormous railroad trestle that once spanned Route 31 and the Souhegan River in Greenville.
Now, 40 years later, local residents can relive local inventor/pilot Bronson Potter's legendary aerial feat via recently rediscovered movie footage.
The long unseen 8mm home movie film, taken by Dave Morrison of Mason, N.H., will be screened on Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Aviation Museum of N.H., 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry, N.H.
The Aviation Museum's 'Movie Night' program will also include a rare screening of 'Flying Luck,' a silent aviation comedy starring Monty Banks and Jean Arthur.
Live music for both films will be provided by Jeff Rapsis, the museum's director and also a musician who specializes in silent film accompaniment.
Admission to the screening, a fund-raiser for the museum's student plane-building partnership, is $20 for the general public; $10 for members.
Morrison's long-lost home movie footage received its "world re-premiere" last month at a packed house at Mason Elementary School.
The show led to requests to run the Bronson Potter film again, this time at the Aviation Museum.
"Because of demand, we're making it a highlight of our 'Movie Night' on Friday, Sept. 20, which will give more people a chance to experience the film with a large audience and live music," Rapsis said.
In the annals of N.H. aviation, Bronson Potter's fly-under stunt is an intriguing chapter, in part because no one is entirely sure why he did it.
"We've been trying to get the real story from local residents who knew Potter and were there," Rapsis said. "Some say it was done on a bet. Others say it was a tribute to his flight instructor, who had recently died."
Over time, the fly-under became subject to varying interpretations, somewhat like a piece of performance art, Rapsis said.
The trestle was taken down in 1984, and Potter died in 2004. But the legend of his stunt has endured.
The movie footage of Potter's flight was unearthed earlier this year by Mason resident Dave Morrison, who found the film in storage when the Aviation Museum was planning to celebrate the stunt's 40th anniversary.
"We had no idea anyone had filmed it," Rapsis said. "But when Dave's spectacular movie footage came to light, it quickly became the centerpiece of our program."
The film's first screening last month attracted the notice of WMUR-TV Channel 9's 'New Hampshire Chronicle,' which is scheduled to air a segment on Bronson Potter on Monday, Sept. 16.
"The Aviation Museum's screening will give people a chance to experience the film at its best—with an audience and with live music," Rapsis said.
At the museum's Movie Night, the Bronson Potter "Fly-Under" film will be preceded by a screening of 'Flying Luck,' a vintage aviation comedy from 1927.
In 'Flying Luck,' hapless aviator Monty Banks, inspired by Charles Lindbergh's solo flight over the Atlantic, joins the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Once enrolled, it's one aerial disaster after another in a movie filled with biplanes, stunts, and the flavor of aviation's early days.
The program is family friendly and all are welcome. Popcorn and drinks will be sold, with all proceeds to support the Museum's plane-building partnership with the Manchester School of Technology.
Guided by Aviation Museum volunteers, MST students are building a two-seat RV-12iS light sport aircraft during the 2019-20 school year.
The innovative program gives students a chance to apply math and science knowledge in the workshop with a unique hands-on experience.
For more information about 'Movie Night' and the student plane-build partnership, call the Aviation Museum at (603) 669-4820 or visit the museum's Web site at www.nhahs.org.
The Aviation Museum of N.H. is located at 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry, N.H. The museum is open Fridays & Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m.
The Aviation Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization dedicated to celebrating New Hampshire's role in aviation history and inspiring the young aerospace pioneers and innovators of tomorrow.
For more info, contact:
Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • firstname.lastname@example.org
More high-resolution digital images available upon request.