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Three Men on the Flying Trapeze

United States
Men on the Flying Trapeze pilots. From left to right: Lt. William McDonald, Lt. Haywood S. Hansell, Capt. Claire L. Chennault and Lt. Luke Williamson

The "Three Men on the Flying Trapeze" aerobatic display team was organized at the US Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Alabama in 1932. The team flew P-12 pursuit planes. The aerobatic team was formed by ex-"Three Musketeers" member Capt. Claire L. Chennault and was finally disbanded in 1936 when most of the pilots went to China and served with the Flying Tigers.

Captain Claire L. Chennault had used a simple method to choose the team. Anyone who could fly with him in his P-12 for 30 minutes of head-spinning aerobatics would be selected. Although many tried, only Lt Haywood S. "Possum" Hansell, Sgt John H. Williamson, and Sgt William C. McDonald accomplished this feat and were consequently selected by Chennault to join the team.

A trophy was presented to the team during the All-American Air Races at Miami, Florida in 1935.

During the four years of the "Three Men on the Flying Trapeze" team's existence, they performed in approximately 50 airshows in front of more than 50,000 people.

en on the Flying Trapeze pilots. From left to right: Lt. Haywood S. Hansell, Capt. Claire L. Chennault and Lt. Luke Williamson Men on the Flying Trapeze Boeing P-12 Men on the Flying Trapeze Boeing P-12 from left to right: Lt. W.C. "Billy" McDonald, Capt. Claire Chennault and Sgt. J.H. "Luke" Wiliamson


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