The Airmail Mystery
Airmail Mystery.jpeg
Film poster
Directed byRay Taylor
Written byElla O'Neill (story)
Basil Dickey
George H. Plympton
George Morgan[1][2]
Produced byHenry MacRae
StarringJames Flavin
Al Wilson
Walter Brennan
Wheeler Oakman
Music byDavid Broekman
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 28, 1932 (1932-03-28)
Running time
12 chapters (225 min.)
CountryUnited States

The Airmail Mystery is a 1932 Universal Pre-Code movie serial directed by Ray Taylor, written by Ella O'Neill, starring James Flavin and Wheeler Oakman, and featuring (Al Wilson) doing the aerial stunts.[3][4] The Airmail Mystery was Universal's first aviation serial that set the pattern for the aviation serials and feature films to follow.[5] The film also marks the film debut of James Flavin.[6] The Airmail Mystery is considered a lost film.[7]


Airmail pilot Bob Lee (James Flavin), owner of a gold mine, faces off against "The Black Hawk" (Wheeler Oakman) who has kidnapped Jimmy Ross (Al Wilson), Bob's best friend. The Black Hawk carries out a series of attacks on Bob's ore shipments by air, using an unusual catapult device that launches aircraft into the sky to intercept Bob's aircraft. With his sweetheart, Mary Ross (Lucile Browne), Bob constantly battles against his enemy, and eventually is able to defeat him.

Chapter titles

  1. Pirates of the Air
  2. Hovering Death
  3. A Leap for Life
  4. A Fatal Crash
  5. The Hawk Strikes
  6. The Bridge of Destruction
  7. The Hawk's Treachery
  8. The Aerial Third Degree
  9. The Attack on the Mine
  10. The Hawk's Lair
  11. The Law Strikes
  12. The Mail Must Go Through




Al Wilson (who played the hero's sidekick Jimmy Ross in the serial) worked together with stuntmen like Frank Clarke and Wally Timm and also for movie companies, including Universal Pictures. After numerous appearances in stunt roles, he started his actor career in 1923, with the serial, The Eagle's Talons.[9] He produced his own movies until 1927, when he went back to work with Universal. Wilson was also one of the pilots in Hell's Angels (1930) and during filming, he was involved in an accident where the mechanic Phil Jones died. This episode marked the end of his career as stunt pilot in movies, although he continued to work as an actor.[10]

Wilson's last role was in The Airmail Mystery. After production was complete, during the National Air Races in Cleveland in 1932, Wilson's aircraft crashed and he died a few days later in hospital due to the injuries he suffered.[11] [N 1]

See also



  1. ^ The accident is documented in the film Pylon Dusters: 1932 and 1938 Air Races, an historic film about the 1932 Cleveland Air Race.[11]


  1. ^ "The Airmail Mystery, 1932, Happy Anniversary! Premiered March 28, 1932. Lost…". March 29, 2014.
  2. ^ Backer, Ron (August 2012). Mystery Movie Series of 1930s Hollywood. ISBN 9780786490189.
  3. ^ Farmer 1984, pp. 293–294.
  4. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "In the Nick of Time". McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  5. ^ Cline 1984, p. 30.
  6. ^ Harmon and Glut 1973, p. 146.
  7. ^ Weiss and Goodgold 1973, p. 26.
  8. ^ Cline 1984, p. 205.
  9. ^ Wynne 1987, pp. 5–17.
  10. ^ "Stunt Pilots." Silents are Golden. Retrieved: January 16, 2011.
  11. ^ a b "The Albert P. "Al" Wilson." Davis-Monthan Airfield Register Website. Retrieved: January 16, 2011.


  • Cline, William C. "3. The Six Faces of Adventure";"Filmography". In the Nick of Time. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  • Farmer, James H. Celluloid Wings: The Impact of Movies on Aviation (1st ed.). Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania: TAB Books 1984. ISBN 978-0-83062-374-7.
  • Harmon, Jim and Donald F. Glut. The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. London: Routledge, 1973. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  • Weiss, Ken and Ed Goodgold. To be Continued ...: A Complete Guide to Motion Picture Serials. New York: Bonanza Books, 1973. ISBN 0-517-166259.
  • Wynne, H. Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN 0-933126-85-9.
Preceded byDetective Lloyd (1932) Universal Serial The Airmail Mystery (1932) Succeeded byHeroes of the West (1932)