The Inman Brothers, Rolley, Arthur and Donald, developed one of the most successful aerial stunt acts during the inter-war period. Various other pilots (including Tex Johnston, as we mentioned in that original post) also flew with the Circus. Since that original post, my fascination with the Circus has grown, and the archive has been able to acquire a few more pieces. Personally, though, I don't feel that the exploits of the Inman Brothers have yet been adequately covered on the web. Someone should write a book....
Donald, the youngest of the three brothers, was killed at the age of 22 during a flight in Ellenton, Florida, on February 10, 1935, as reported in an article in the Southeast Missourian (the article is slightly confusing, and it's not clear if this was a Flying Circus flight, or whether Donald had set off barnstorming on his own). While the newspaper doesn't identify the type of aircraft, Donald was flying with another pilot, Charles Hoanes, when the aircraft suffered an engine failure on takeoff and dove into some trees. While Donald was killed, the newspaper credits him with saving a 17-year-old woman, Miss Corrine Edwards, as he "threw himself across Miss Edwards, to prevent her from being more seriously hurt." Though soaked with gasoline, fortunately the plane did not burn.
|The caption taped to the back of this glossy reads, "QUEEN|
OF THE FLYING TIN GOOSE -- Mrs. Leona Pemberton of Sun
City was one of the first women to achieve serial noteriety as
she worked with the Inman Bros. Flying Circus out of Coffeyville,
Recently, the Archive acquired two 8x10 glossy publicity photos featuring one of the Inman wives, Leona, who was married to Art (she's the second from the left in the ad card picture). Leona had served as Stewardess on the Ford Trimotor that the Circus used for giving passenger "thrill rides".
|The caption provided by the PR firm and taped to the back|
reads, "RETIRED NOW -- In her garden at Sun City, Mrs.
Leona Pemberton recalls her early days as "Queen of the
Barnstormers," when each flight was full of adventure,
excitement and danger."
The last item that I've found on the Flying Circus was this 1987 obituary from the New York Times for Margie Inman (far left on the ad card). The wife of Rolley, she performed in the act as a wing-walker, among other duties. The article notes that Rolley died "in a crash" in 1944, though it doesn't say whether this was in the War or stateside.
Sadly, her end seems like a sad one, in failing health and living in a lean-to with numerous pets in Fort Lauderdale. The same 1935 newspaper article that talked about Donald's death also gives some insight into her love of animals...evidently for a while, the Circus included a pet lion - named "Kitty" - who lived with Rolley and Margie, and accompanied the couple both in the air and "on motor car journeys as well. Often the animal may be seen occupying the rumble seat of Rolley Inman's automobile."
And lastly, this tidbit...while I've not been able to find any references to the post-Flying Circus career of Carl Hall (second from the right on the ad card), it's interesting to note that the Canadian Air & Space Museum is located at 65 Carl Hall Road in Toronto. Coincidence?