MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN: “Flying A’s” Spectacular Stunt

By Betsy J. Green

One of the most amazing (and dangerous) stunts performed by Santa Barbara’s own silent film studio made the news in March and April of 1916.

“Movie Daredevil Drives Auto Over a 33-Foot Chasm . . . Albert Thompson, daredevil of the ‘Flying A’ company, piloted a Maxwell automobile across a 33-foot chasm over Las Posas Creek [near Camarillo]. The jump through space was taken over a washed-in bridge . . . the car . . . was absolutely undamaged despite the heavy shock as it hit the ground nose foremost, 47 feet from where it took the jump into the air . . . About 400 people were present to see this stunt.”

Fortunately, for the driver, and the actor and actress in the back seat, the stunt was successful. What’s next, you ask? Well, let’s not forget the stupid factor. Two guys from Ojai tried to duplicate the stunt — with a stolen car. “They are now serving 90 days each in the county jail at Ventura,” the local paper reported. “They wrecked the automobile after leaping an 18-foot gap.”

The stunt was done for a serial called “The Secret of the Submarine.” Unfortunately, footage of this stunt does not survive.

Betsy’s Way Back When book — 1919 — is now available in local bookstores and at This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at​.


Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at

What do you think?


0 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment

101 Southbound State Beaches Offramp/Exit Closed

Lynn Kirst Selected to Portray Saint Barbara in 2022 Old Spanish Days Fiesta