|The Airmail Mystery|
|Directed by||Ray Taylor|
|Written by||Ella O'Neill (story)|
George H. Plympton
|Produced by||Henry MacRae|
|Music by||David Broekman|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|12 chapters (225 min.)|
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. The Airmail Mystery was Universal's first aviation serial that set the pattern for the aviation serials and feature films to follow. The film also marks the film debut of James Flavin. The Airmail Mystery is considered a lost film.
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.
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. 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.
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. [N 1]