Ormer Lockear was a brilliant stunt pilot who pioneered aerial acrobatics during the silent film era. He only made two films, The Great Air Robbery (1919) and The Skywayman (1920). His untimely death during a tragic stunt was caught on film in the final scene of The Skywayman.
In 1917 Locklear joined the U. S. Army Air Service and was an Army flying instructor. Here he made in-flight repairs by walking on the wings of his plane. Here he perfected wing walking. He left in 1919 with Milton “Skeets” Elliott and performed barnstorming exhibitions to capacity crowds. He was the most successful barnstormer of the post-war era. His trademark stunt was jumping from one plane to another. He caught the eye of Hollywood and was signed up to his first picture The Great Air Robbery to showcase his aerial stunts.
The last scene of The Skywayman was to be shot at night, which was unusual at the time. The technicians were told to turn off five large lights that shined up into the sky when Locklear was at a certain point coming down into a spin. For some reason the lights were not turned off. The lights blinded Locklear and Elliott and the plane crashed as it was in its spin downward. Both men were killed instantly. A huge crowd had gathered to see the nighttime stunt and where shocked by what happened. The crash was caught on film and used in the movie. The Skywayman is considered to be a lost film.
Ormer Locklear had an adventurous spirit who died too young.