facebook youtube instagram

Unknown Photographer
Taking the danger out of flying tricks
USA, Los Angeles, April 14th, 1932
Gelatin silver print, 11,3 x 15,5 cm
Black marks in ink in the image; on the reverse agency stamp „Wide World Photos”, date stamp „26.4.1932”, 2 clips with ediorial texts

The original agency text from the Californian office of World Wide Photos on the reverse of the photo is as follows: „All the acrobatics known to aviation can be performed on this queer aeroplane just given its debut at Los Angeles, with the added advantage of the danger being absent. Equipped with standard controls, and powered by an electric motor, it loops, banks, turns at its safe altitude of a few feet, and is said to be invaluable in teaching student pilots the rudiments of flying”.

The editors of the left wing, radical democratic Vienna newspaper Der Abend (no. 998, 27th April, 1932, p. 12) changed the caption into: „In the flying school in Los Angeles, California, a major site for American aviation, equipment has been introduced that trains pupil pilots in the shortest possible time to be able to execute demanding air manoeuvres without vertigo. – The lack of vertigo means the equipment would also be appropriate for use by Austrian bank directors”.

The final sentence was intended to underline the massive bank crisis that took place in the Austrian banking sector from 1930 on. It culminated in the collapse of the Creditanstalt. Between 1931 and 1933 the state and the national bank had to provide over one billion schillings to support the Vienna banks. The resulting economic crisis made 1932 the blackest year of the first republic.

Wide World Photos is the photo agency of Associated Press (AP). The photo has the typical press photo markings in the margins showing the required cropping. In addition retouching can be clearly seen, undertaken to increase the contrast since the print quality of the newspaper was very limited.

Der Abend appeared daily, sometimes in two editions. In every edition the paper printed a pictorial section with short captions covering a whole page. The pictures had no relationship to each other and were independent of the articles in the rest of the paper. Its founder, Karl Colbert (1855 – 1929), was originally the director of a bank and was a latecomer to journalism. Der Abend followed a very critical line; Colbert himself was an active member of the Social Democratic Party and supported its left wing. After his death the editorial responsibility was taken on by Ernst Colbert until 1933.

Ulla Fischer-Westhauser, © WestLicht