Omaha, NE Stunt Flier Killed, May 1931



Omaha, Neb. - (AP) - Death has brought to a close the career of CHARLES W. "SPEED" HOLMAN, 33, of Minneapolis, whose name for years had been high in the list of American aviators. He was killed Sunday while stunting upside down at a height of only 20 feet at the Omaha air races. Death was instantaneous. Twenty thousand spectators saw him die.
His own magnanimity, his friends said, was the indirect cause of the death of the St. Paul aviator whose stunts in the air had thrilled thousands during the past decade. During a lull in the closing day program, HOLMAN volunteered to go aloft and stunt for the capacity holiday crowd.

Stiff Wind Blowing.
A stiff, treacherous wind was blowing above the field. For 15 minutes he had delighted the crowd with his sky antics. Barrel-rolls, outside loops, immelman turns, each in turn, brought spectators to their feet.
Then a thunderous crash was heard as his plane fell. It rolled, plowed and bounced its way along for 200 feet before it stopped. The engine was thrown two feet to one side and HOLMAN'S body was thrown 10 feet from the battered, shapeless wreckage.

Cause Not Known.
No official verdict on the cause of the fatal crash had been reached today. Some official observers believed HOLMAN'S safety belt broke, allowing him to fall partly out of the cockpit and lose his grip on the controls as his ship skimmed crazily along to death; others thought that the plane was caught in a down current of air and was unable to right itself because of the pressure from above.
HOLMAN was operations manager of Northwest Airways in St. Paul.

Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune Iowa 1931-05-18