In aviation tales, L. Ron Hubbard’s Trouble on His Wings sheds light on fascinating, overlooked, and little-known facts about newsreels. These “relics” of the past held a tangible presence during the era in which the story unfolded.
This article embarks on a journey to explore the historical significance of newsreels, their contemporary relevance, and the narrative that sparked this exploration—Trouble on His Wings, epitomizing the author’s pursuit of the “slim, forgotten fact” which elevates a story from the mundane to the memorable.
The Evolution from Big Screen to Television
Newsreels debuted in the early 1900s, captivating audiences as brief, ten-minute films preceding feature presentations in cinemas worldwide. They addressed diverse subjects such as current events, sports, and entertainment. Renowned companies including Fox Movietone News, British Pathé, and Universal Newsreels produced these cinematic glimpses.
Notably, newsreels played a pivotal role in documenting significant events, such as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and providing updates during World War II, not to mention Churchill’s victory speech after defeating the Germans in 1945. However, with the advent of television in the 1950s, their popularity waned, ultimately fading away by the mid-1960s.
The Digital Resurgence
In the digital age, newsreels experience a renaissance on social media platforms like YouTube. Digitized and restored historical footage, including moments from the 1936 Olympics or Howard Hughes’ 1938 flight around the world, find a new home online. Twitter and Facebook have become channels for sharing these historical gems, transforming newsreels into a valuable educational tool.
Beyond their historical significance, newsreels offer a unique opportunity for education, providing a window into the past and serving as a resource for teaching about historical events and figures.
The Narrative Thread: Trouble on His Wings
In Hubbard’s aviation adventure, Trouble on His Wings, the protagonist, daredevil photojournalist Johnny Brice, perpetually risks his life to record the news. However, his world turns upside down when he rescues the enigmatic and beautiful woman he names “Jinx” from a sinking ship. With Jinx in the picture, trouble abounds. Johnny repeatedly loses his film to water, fire, and war. It all comes to a head on assignment in China when the Japanese shoot his plane down and take Jinx and Johnny prisoner. Trying to get the real story on Jinx leads to a shocking revelation worthy of its own newsreel.
The Author’s Aerial Insight
L. Ron Hubbard’s youthful aviation exploits, marked by a penchant for danger, informed his gripping aerial adventure stories. His unique perspective, gained through extensive research and adventurous experiences, injected authenticity into his tales—revealing little-known facts in history.
One journalist wrote: “The flaming-haired pilot [L. Ron Hubbard] hit the city like a tornado a few years ago…. He just dared the ground to come up and hit him.” His aerial adventure stories clearly show the knowledge and insight he gained during those flights.
The history of newsreels offers a distinctive lens into the past. Newsreels have been instrumental in documenting history from their cinematic origins to their resurgence in the digital era. While their traditional production may have ceased, the timeless adage remains: “Pics or it didn’t happen.” In essence, without visual evidence, an event’s occurrence is questioned. It is as true today as in Trouble on His Wings.
Galaxy Press recommends exploring the adventures of a newsreel cameraman in the 1930s through Trouble on His Wings by L. Ron Hubbard. Other works like Man-Killers of the Air and “Wings over Ethiopia” also delve into the captivating world of newsreels.