So Minnesota: The amazing life of stuntman and daredevil Charles "Speed" Holman

Joe Mazan
Updated: April 27, 2020 10:25 PM
Created: April 16, 2020 04:10 PM

Many remember Evel Knievel's death-defying jumps as a stunt performer.

Long before Knievel, a Minnesota daredevil made national headlines and broke world records.


Charles "Speed" Holman was born in Bloomington in 1898 and grew up with a passion to fly. 

"He was known even before he got into the cockpit of a plane for saying he wanted to live a fast life and full life even if it wasn't a long life,"  Bill Convery, with the Minnesota Historical Society said. 

 Holman started his career by jumping out of airplanes with a parachute or walking on the wings. Holman's fame grew when he broke a world record over St. Paul. 

 "He spent more than seven hours doing more than 1,100 loop de loops to break a French record," Convery said. 

Holman became the first pilot hired by Northwest Airlines. He would go on to break other speed records in the sky and become a national star. 

Speed Holman was killed in 1931 after his plane crashed during an air show in Nebraska. 

"His loss was seen as a real civic blow for St. Paul and for Minnesota," Convery said. "A reported 100,000 people lined the route to say goodby to this fearless aviator."

The downtown St. Paul Airport was renamed Holman Field. A small memorial sits near a runway making Holman's accomplishments. 

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