The Cloud Rider

The Cloud Rider is a 1925 silent action adventure aviation film directed by Bruce M. Mitchell and starring Al Wilson and Virginia Lee Corbin. It was distributed by Film Booking Offices of America.[1]The Cloud Rider was one of a series of films that showcased the exploits of the stunt pilots in Hollywood.

The Cloud Rider
Directed byBruce M. Mitchell
Produced byAl Wilson
Ernest Van Pelt (supervising producer)
Written byAl Wilson(story)
L. V. Jefferson(scenario)
StarringAl Wilson
Virginia Lee Corbin
Harry von Meter
CinematographyLige Zerr
Van Pelt-Wilson Productions
Distributed byFBO
Release date
  • February 15, 1925 (1925-02-15)
Running time
5 reels
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles




Secret agent Bruce Torrence (Al Wilson) is assigned to infiltrate a gang of drug smugglers. The leader, Juan Lascelles (Harry von Meter) uses a fleet of aircraft in their illicit operation. Lascelles realizes who Torrance is and sabotages his aircraft by loosening a wheel.

Young Blythe Wingate (Virginia Lee Corbin) takes off in Torrance's aircraft, but the loosened wheel falls off in midair. Strapping an extra wheel to his back, Torrance has his friend, Frank Clarke fly close to Blythe's aircraft.

Skillfully grabbing onto the stricken aircraft, Torrance manages to attach the new wheel and then climbs into Blythe's cockpit, bringing her aircraft back safely.

Torrence catches up to the gang, and, with the help of other agents, arrests them. Blythe is suitably impressed.


Al Wilson was not only the star of The Cloud Rider but also gathered together friends who would form a "flying circus". Wilson worked together with stuntmen like Frank Clarke and Wally Timm primarily for film companies, flying as a "stunt pilot" in the films. After Wilson became a flying instructor and a short period as manager of the Mercury Aviation Company, founded by one of his students, Cecil B. DeMille.[3]

Wilson became more and more skilled in performing stunts, including wing-walking, and left the company to become a professional stunt pilot, specializing in Hollywood aviation films. After numerous appearances in stunt roles, he started his career as an actor in 1923 with the serial The Eagle's Talons.[4] [5]

The Cloud Rider was one of the first films in a five-year period where Wilson alternately wrote, acted and flew in a career that "spanned more than 10 years, and he acted in more films than any other professional pilot." [6]

Wilson produced his own movies until 1927, when he went back to work with Universal Pictures, where he had made strong business connections. [N 1]


Wilson made an appearance in person on stage when The Cloud Rider was premiered at the California Theatre in down-town Los Angeles.[8]

Aviation film historian Stephen Pendo, in Aviation in the Cinema (1985) said The Cloud Rider was only one of a long list of aviation films that showcased Wilson's talents.[9] The film featured a dangerous aerial stunt where a transfer from aircraft to aircraft involved a "missing wheel" that had to be re-attached. "Further aerial action included a plane crash in the ocean."[9]


A copy of The Cloud Rider is preserved in the Cineteca Italiana, Milan.[10]



  1. Wilson was one of the pilots flying 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 Hollywood.[7]


  1. "Data:'The Cloud Rider.", 2019. Retrieved: June 20, 2019.
  2. "Detail view: 'The Cloud Rider'." The AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 2019. Retrieved: June 20, 2019.
  3. Wynne 1987, pp. 16–17.
  4. Wynne 1987, pp. 5–17.
  5. Wynne 1987, p. 38.
  6. Pendo 1985, pp. 7–8, 11.
  7. "Stunt Pilots." Silents are Golden. Retrieved: June 20, 2019.
  8. Wynne 1987, p. 38.
  9. Pendo 1985, p. 7.
  10. "Catalog:'The Cloud Rider'." 'The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival, 2019. Retrieved: June 20, 2019.


  • Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8-1081-746-2.
  • Wynne, H. Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN 978-0-93312-685-5.
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