Today, July 8th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia remember aviator and aircraft entrepreneur Paul Mantz, who passed away on this day in 1965 while flying the single engine aircraft immortalized in the original Flight of the Phoenix.
It was Mantz who supplied the World War I Nieuport fighter plane in "The Last Flight," a plane that suddenly appears at a modern U.S. Air Force base in France.
A native of Alameda, California, Mantz (1903-1965) grew up in Redwood City, California and developed an early interest in flying. He was one of the earliest flyers to form a company that supplied aircraft and aerial cameras to the fledgling movie business, served as an advisor to Amelia Earhart, and later commanded the U.S. Army Air Corps 1st Motion Picture Unit during World War II.
Not surprisingly, he broke into the movies as a stunt pilot on Howard Hughes' World War I flying epic Hell's Angels (1930), a film that features an astonishing number of live flyers. He also supplied the twin-engine Beechcraft that his partner Frank Tallman flew through a billboard advertisement in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
So, on this the day of his tragic passing in 1965, let's salute a high-flying aircraft entrepreneur who brought his expertise to the series that flies way, way above the clouds: The Twilight Zone.