Photo Mystery Monday: November 16, 2015

This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.


Be a photo detective! What is going on in this picture? Do you have a guess as to what year it might be? Where in Florida could this be?

What people, objects and activities do you notice?

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see?

Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!

For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.


UPDATE: Auto-to-airplane transfer stunt at Daytona Beach

This photograph was taken on December 1, 1921 at Daytona Beach.

The Mabel Cody Flying Circus featured night-flying, wing-walking, auto-to-airplane transfers, single- and double-parachute drops, and acrobatic loop-to-loops. Mabel Cody (who was not officially a pilot) was hired by fairs and promoters like George E. Merrick to attract crowds and potential land and home buyers.

Mabel Cody is flying above Sig Haugdahl in his Frontenac automobile. Stuntman Louis “Bugs” McGowan is transferring from the car to the plane.

Louie “Bugs” McGowan, Sig Haugdahl and Mabel Cody

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5 thoughts on “Photo Mystery Monday: November 16, 2015

  1. This looks like an aerial Stunt being performed on a beach. The cars seem to be involved in the show as well. There is a speedster and in the foreground is a car that looks like a typical car driven during the early to mid 20th Century. The plane and the speedster or roadster are going in the same direction, so the man hanging from the plane could have been a moment earlier balancing on the roadster.

  2. I had to make the picture larger, it was The Mabel Cody flying Circus. it was popular in the 20’s to be in a speeding car and have the plane pick up the person. This was done on several beaches in Florida

  3. I think it is the other way around. The guy hanging from the wing is going to be dropped into the car. Much more daring than being picked from the car. The chase car in the lower right is early 20s.

  4. I did a search on the Mabel Cody Flying Circus and found the photo. It is labeled Curtiss JN-4
    Auto to Plane Transfer
    Pilot: Louis “Bugs” McGowen
    Daytona Beach, Fl.–1921
    Photo: Florida State Archives

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