About the Column

As, first, the protege of Disney Legend Herb Ryman, then a frequent companion of many other Disney animators and imagineers, and now Ryman's biographer, John Donaldson has much Disney lore to share, and share it he will each week in his unique, lyrical style.

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FROM: Squeak of the Week Published Fridays

How Walt Disney Really Went Plane Crazy

Friday, for most, brings the last few hours of forced labor before weekend freedom, but around here, it brings a new story by John Donaldson, who today gives his lucidly lyrical take on Plane Crazy (by) Walt Disney.

Well, kids, here is another mystery of Disney history, that has been, by other authors, entirely missed.

click an image to expand:


Los Angeles Times, March 18, 1928: Model


Plane Crazy Airplane


Los Angeles Times, March 18, 1928: Airplane

Plane Crazy: Mickey and Minnie

How did Plane Crazy really come about?

The last time we left Walt and Lillian Disney, they were on their way back from New York City after telling Charles Mintz to have his own stab at the rabbit.

By creating a new character, a mouse, Walt Disney could now be rid of the louse.

In quick need of a caper, Walt stuck his nose in a newspaper; the Los Angeles Times, in fact. March 18, 1928; the day the two arrived back in town.

Set among comic strips, he found a feature on the fun making of functional, model airplanes. With a list of common material, ranging from rubber bands to a strand of chair rattan, white pine and wrapping paper, one could see a miniature machine that would find flight of three hundred feet.

The particular article that week placed a plan for building such a Lindbergh monoplane.

Now that a story was forming, there would be no halt to Walt.

In a lauding of Lindbergh, the mouse could emulate the man; at least, to best attempt, crafting a slap-patch of a wood-plank plane, propelled by a home-brew screw.

But, would that be enough to fly for six minutes?


There needed to be something more.

Walt went back to that newspaper. Sixty-nine pages back, in fact. In a profile of motion picture personalities, or Fillum Figures, as they had it, a promotion for Sweeties, a silent film comedy on courtship, depicted use of an airplane, in attempt to woo and coo.

That was it.

Plane Crazy could now take off, having gal-pal as part of the loop the loop, flip and flop plot.

And Mickey and Minnie, with Walt along, would soon climb to higher heights.

A Note from John...

As this column continues, I would like to thank everyone, for their kind, encouraging comments. My style is just my style; a working of words, a bit of wit; but not to make history hysterical.

Many of my stories find source from years within the old, Disney inner circle, backed by often backbreaking, corroborating research. While there has yet to be a definitive biography on Walt Disney, I will say my work, Warp and Weft: Life Canvas of Herbert Ryman, carries key components not found anywhere else.

Dare to compare! Get your copy now.


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