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Ormer Locklear Collection

Identifier: H007-75

Scope and Content

This collection contains photographs, press clippings, lobby cards, and other material related to Ormer Locklear’s career as a United States Army Air Service pilot in World War I, barnstormer, and movie star. It also contains material related to Ormer Locklear: The Man Who Walked on Wings, a 1973 biography of Locklear by Austin Ronnie. The Ormer Locklear Collection is housed in two manuscript boxes, and four non-standard boxes totaling 6.0 linear ft.

The collection arrived in good condition and the archivist identified ten series:

The first series is the Ormer Locklear Biography Series, which includes photographs, clippings, and biographical notes about the life of Ormer Locklear.

The second series is the Ormer Locker and Stunt Flying series, which contains photographs, advertisements, and articles discussing Locklear’s various acrobatic and exhibition flying exploits, as well as discussing some stunts involving ground vehicles.

The third series is the Ormer Locklear in The United States Army Air Service Series, which consists of photographs of Ormer Locklear at Barron Field in Fort Worth, Texas.

The fourth series is the Ormer Locklear and Other People Series, which includes photographs of Ormer Locklear’s friends, family, and famed boxer Jack Dempsey.

The fifth series is the Ormer Locklear’s Death and Funeral Series, which contains photographs of Ormer Locklear’s fatal crash site in California, his funeral process in Los Angeles, CA, and his procession, funeral, and burial in Fort Worth, Texas.

The sixth series is the Locklear: The Man who Walked on Wings by Austin Ronnie Series, a biography of Locklear and consists of information about the book, book reviews from various magazines and newspapers, and photographs of a Fort Worth, TX book signing.

The seventh series is the Ormer Locklear in Hollywood Series and includes photographs of Ormer Locklear and actress Viola Dana in various locations around Los Angeles, CA, Viola Dana and her family, and stills from the sets of the films The Skywayman and The Great Air Robbery.

The eighth series is the Ormer Locklear Clipping Series and consists of articles about Ormer Locklear’s barnstorming act, movie career, accident and funeral, as well as reviews of the film The Great Waldo Pepper, which is based partially on events from Ormer Locklear’s life.

The ninth series is the Ormer Locklear Scrapbook Series which contains three scrapbooks of photographs related to Ormer Locklear’s life and legacy collected by his sister Anita Mae Locklear, of Fort Worth, Texas.

The tenth Series is the Ormer Locklear Oversize Series and includes a number of colored lobby cards for the film The Great Air Robbery, and several full page newspaper clippings discussing Ormer Locklear’s accident and death.


  • Creation: 1890 - 1991
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1917 - 1920


Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Biographical Sketch

Ormer Leslie Locklear was born on October 28, 1891 in Greenville, Texas. At a young age, his parents moved to Fort Worth, Texas and in 1911 that he witnessed the early cross-country aviator Calbraith P. Rogers land to fix a clogged fuel line. This spurred an early interest in flying in Locklear, and later in that year he and his brother built their own glider. Locklear went to work, as a carpenter, and in 1915, he married Ruby Graves. On October 25, 1917, Ormer Locklear enlisted in the United States Army Air Service in San Antonio, and was sent to Camp Dick in Austin, Texas for training. He was later transferred to Barron Field near Fort Worth to complete his pilot training. Locklear mastered a number of aviation stunts while learning to fly at Barron, including leaving the cockpit of a plane in flight (according to stories in order to reattach a dangling radiator cap, and in November of 1918, being one of the first people to transfer between to aircraft in mid-air. Locklear was promoted to a position as squadron commander at Barron Field, and was placed in charge of cross-country flight training.

On May 7, 1919, Locklear left the United States Air Service with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and with two of his fellow discharged pilots (Milton Elliot and Shirley Short) decided to make a career out of barnstorming. They toured the country performing a number of feats, and Locklear is credited with demonstrating the first public mid-air aircraft transfer at the Uniontown Speedway in Pennsylvania on May 16, 1919. In June of that year, Universal pictures contacted the Locklear, to star in an aviation action-adventure movie called The Great Air Robbery. Locklear preformed all of his own flying stunts, including the first transfer from a moving automobile to a flying aircraft. He also met, and became involved with a Hollywood starlet named Viola Dana.

Locklear continued to fly in barnstorming expeditions throughout the rest of 1919, and the beginning of 1920. Later that year, he was cast in Fox Film’s The Skywayman. On August 2, 1920, filming for The Skywayman had almost completed, and Locklear only needed to complete one final stunt. He was supposed to simulate his aircraft crashing into the ground during nighttime shooting. In order to signal Locklear when to pull up and prevent a crash, a number of landing lights were supposed to be turned off when he reached a safe altitude to pull out of the dive. As Locklear entered the dive, he was either blinded or disoriented by the landing lights; or the lights were not turned off in time for him to successfully pull out of the dive. Sources are unclear as to which was the cause of the crash and Locklear and his co-pilot Milton Elliot were killed when their aircraft impacted with the ground. Viola Dana, who was on set to watch Locklear’s stunt, witnessed the horrific crash.

Locklear’s body was given a funeral procession in Los Angeles, as it was escorted to the train that would take it home to Fort Worth. Locklear’s body arrived in Fort Worth on August 7, and on August 8, a funeral service was held at Mulkey Memorial Methodist Church. Locklear was later buried in Greenwood Cemetery. Although Locklear’s career was brief, he originated a number of stunts that would become the staples of barnstorming shows around the world. In 1975, the Robert Redford movieThe Great Waldo Pepper was dedicated to Ormer Locklear, and several other airmen who had died performing aviation stunts, and drew on elements of his life for its story. Another honor was received in 1991 Ormer Locklear’s grave at Greenwood Cemetery was dedicated with a Texas Historical Marker.


Ronnie, Austin. 1973. "Locklear: The Man Who Walked on Wings." A.S. Barnes and Company: Cranbury, NJ.
"Ormer Locklear Collecton," Biographical Information, Folder 1, Box 1, Series I, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.


6.5 Linear Feet (Two manuscript boxes, one non-standard box (13x10.5x3), one non-standard box (15x12x3), one non-standard box (17x13x3), and one non-standard box (22x16x2).)


Ormer Locklear, born on October 28, 1891 in Greenville, Texas, learned to fly in the United States Army Aviation Service during World War I. On leaving the military after the Armistice in 1919, Locklear flew around the country pioneering a number of barnstorming feats including the wing walk, and the midair transfer from one plane to another. His fame as a stunt pilot brought him to Hollywood where he completed one film, before being tragically killed during a stunt on his second movie in 1920. The collection contains photographs, documents, and scrapbooks related to his career as a pilot, barnstormer, and movie star.

Series Description

Series I. Ormer Locklear Biography 0.1 linear ft. (two folders), 1973-1974.

Arranged chronologically.

Series II. Ormer Locklear and Stunt Flying 0.1 linear ft. (nine folders), 1911-1973.

Arranged chronologically.

Series III. Ormer Locklear in The United States Army Air Service (USAAS) 0.1 linear ft. (two folders), 1917-1920.

Arranged chronologically.

Series IV. Ormer Locklear and other People 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1918-1920.

Arranged chronologically.

Series V. Ormer Locklear’s Death and Funeral 0.1 linear ft. (three folders), 1920.

Arranged chronologically.

Series VI. The Man Who Walked on Wings by Austin Ronnie 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1973.

Arranged chronologically.

Series VII. Ormer Locklear in Hollywood 0.25 linear ft. (ten folders), 1919-1920.

Arranged chronologically.

Series VIII. Ormer Locklear Clippings 0.25 linear ft. (five folders), 1920-1974.

Arranged chronologically.

Series IX. Scrapbooks 3.0 linear ft. (three non-standard boxes), 1898-1991.

Arranged chronologically.

Series X. Oversize Material 2.0 linear ft. (one non-standard box), 1920-1973.

Arranged chronologically.

Provenance Statement

The Ormer Locklear Collection was donated to the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by Anita Locklear in 1978, with an additional donation of pictures depicting the dedication of Ormer Locklear's Texas Historical Marker in 1991.

Existence and Location of Copies

Some of the images were digitized through a grant by The University of North Texas (UNT) and are accessible through the Portal to Texas History hosted by UNT:

The image ID number on the Portal reflect an older identification system and do not necessarily reflect the new arrangement.

Some of this collection is available on The University of Texas Dallas library website. Follow this link to see digitized items from this collection:

Additional Sources

Additional material about the life of Ormer Locklear can be found in the W. G. Fuller Collection, and the Aviation Personalities Biography Collection. The History of Aviation Collection's library also has a copy of Austin Ronnie's Locklear: The Man Who Walked on Wings (the definitive biography of Locklear). Ormer Locklear's story and his experiences at Barron Field are also recounted in J. Nell L. Patie's Arsenal of Defense: Fort Worth's Military Legacy, and in several other books about stunt flying and barnstorming held by the History of Aviation Collection.

The Austin Ronnie Archives can be found at Johnson Rare Books and Archives at .

Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, series, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example: 5OLL-1-3-PB1

5 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

OLL = Ormer Locklear Collection

1 = Box Number

3 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

B = Black and White

1 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.

Note to the Researcher

The materials in the collection were orginally processed by Gay Orczy-Baristow. The contents of one of the scrpabooks in the collection, were removed from the orignal scrapbook due to condition problems and rehoused and refoldered.

Guide to the Ormer Locklear Collection, 1898-1920
Thomas J. Allen, PhD. March 2012. Arranged and processed by Gay Orczy-Barstow.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
English (eng)
Edition statement
First revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2016-08-22. Second revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2020-12-03.

Revision Statements

  • 2016-08-22: 1st revision was a reprocessing of the collection and an update of the finding aid by Patrizia Nava, CA.
  • 2020-12-03: 2nd revision was an update of the existance and location of copies note and other style elements of the finding aid by Patrizia Nava, CA.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

3020 Waterview Pkwy
Suite 11.206
Richardson Texas 75080 US