Lincoln Beachey’s impact on aviation and air showmanship was enormous. He was the first man to fly upside down, the first in America to perform a loop, the first man to tail-slide on purpose, and the first to figure out how to recover from a spin. He was the first to fly inside a building, the first to pick up a handkerchief from the ground with his wingtip, and once even dressed as a woman to dance “her” biplane wheels across cartops and cobblestones in downtown Chicago.
He performed for the largest audiences in the history of the United States. At a time when the U.S. population was 76 million, 17 million people saw him in one 30-week period. He made more than the national average annual income every day that he performed. The United States Congress adjourned twice from formal sessions, in 1906 and 1914, to watch him fly. Beachey’s many contributions to the industry back in the first decade of powered flight are still seen today in the techniques and maneuvers employed by air show pilots the world over.