In 1918, Edward Wales, a one-time actor at the "Flying A" film studio in Santa Barbara, California was now a volunteer in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I. Wales completed an aviation course at North Island, San Diego where he set a student altitude record of 10,800 feet. Now Lieutenant Wales, he stopped by Santa Barbara to show off his new skill to fellow actor William Russell.
"Mr. Russell took a few trial flights . . . but you could tell that he sort of wanted to hang around as near the ground as possible." Wales tried to allay his friend's fears by telling him that aviators whose planes were shot down were usually dead before they reached the ground. (That was supposed to make him feel better?)