|PASSENGER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Sikorsky|
The S-29A (A for America), in the spring of 1924. Igor Sikorsky, in the open cockpit, had been warned by well-meaning American pilots that no-one would buy an aircraft with an enclosed cockpit at the front in the early 1920s. An interesting feature is one of the first airstair doors, shown open under the cabin entrance.
The S-29 might never have flown but for $5,000 provided by the great pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, who accepted the position of first vice-president of the struggling corporation.
In 1928, Howard Hughes bought the S-29A for use in his epic film "Hell's Angels". To simulate a First World War German Gotha bomber, he painted it black, with Maltese cross insignia and with machine-guns above the mid-fuselage cockpit, at side hatches and above and below the nose. In the film, the aircraft is seen to spin down and crash. Few of the viewers realized that the pilot had parachuted to safety, but that the man releasing the smoke trail from the rear fuselage had not known that the S-29A was out of control and died when it slammed into the ground.