Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Durand Durand

In the first photo we have Jean Durand, "Stunt Flyer," standing in front of a Standard J-1—a shot taken in 1928. Below it Jean Durand poses on a windy day in his bat-wings (photo provided by Francis Heilmann). Same man? I'm guessing so, but the Jean Durand in the wings was French and "Stunt Flyer" is decidedly English. Was he on a tour of the U.S.? Flying the J-1 or jumping out of it? As he was already flying in 1928 and (still) looks very young in the second photo he was probably one of the first handful of bat-wing jumpers. He almost certainly was the first to use wings without any spars or any other rigid parts.

If you look closely you'll see a wire clipped to the front of his harness that runs down to what looks like a package wrapped around his left foot. No, he was not the original shoeicide bomber—this must have been his method of deploying flour behind him as he flew (or fell), allowing folks on the ground to see his trail through the sky. Unfortunately that is all of his story that we know. On the off chance that you've got some tidbit of information about Durand (either one) please do send me a note.

7 comments:

jwinters said...

Odd that it is on his shoe. In the picture of Zmuda and of the guy with Gene Simmons, they seem to have a similar wire-to-cannister configuration mounted on the "tail." Was there something structurally different about Durand's wing suit that would have precluded that sort of placement?

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Anonymous said...

I have a very old photo of my grandfather going for a ride in a Jenny and greatly enlarging it one can make out 'JEAN DU RAND STUNT FLYER' on the top wing. I have assumed for years that the photo location was in Saugerties, NY. I'm 83 but can vaguely remember once as a child going down to what is now called "Cantine's Field" and seeing a plane. The dress of the onlookers makes me think it's the early 1930's.

Is this any help or interest?
Charles