On this date in 1916, Aviator stuntman Joe Boquel climaxed his first engagement performing in the skies over Seal Beach with two new stunts— the falling leaf tail twist and the merry-go-round. The specifics of these stunts can be guessed, but not confirmed because there were no reviews or reports of his August 27th performance to be found — just publicity and advertising.
By all accounts, the Bayside Land Company scored a monumental success by hiring the “Most Daring Aviator Known,” and by all accounts, I mean newspaper accounts. For example, the Los Angeles Herald reported that 38,000 people watch Boquel make thirteen air loops while falling from an altitude of 27,000 feet, barely pulling out at 200 feet to make his last loop.
1916 was Boquel’s year, and the newspapers were filled with his exploits. And August had been an eventful month for French flyer. On August 1st, his plane had plummeted 1500 feet and was demolished when it crashed on a San Francisco beach, but somehow Boquel had escaped with minor injuries and limped from the wreckage to the arms of his wife. Just a few days later, he took over the booking of his fellow Panama Pacific Expo stunt pilot Art Smith after Smith was injured in a crash. He took wild chances over Seal Beach with only minor mishaps and the large crowds adored him. He would finish August 1916 out doing 50 loops at the state fair in Sacramento.
One newspaper story published late in his August run in Seal Beach claimed that Boquel would not be seen in the southland again because “he will leave for foreign shores immediately upon consummation of his contract.” This turned out to be wrong, and Boquel returned to Seal Beach for one last long engagement the next month.
You can see more about Joe Boquel by clicking here.
– Michael Dobkins
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