Wings Over The Andes, narrated by Lowell Thomas, is a short film that documents the pioneering aerial photography expedition to Peru (specifically, to Peru’s Lost Valley) by geologist Robert Shippee and U.S. Navy Lt. George Johnson in 1931. The film opens with Shippee and Johnson loading supplies into small airplanes (possibly Bellancas) at an airfield in Peru. The planes take off and fly over the Peruvian coastal plain then over the snow-capped Andes Mountains. Footage from the planes show Andean glaciers and rivers, Macchu Picchu (02:52), and green amphitheaters or terraced farms. The expedition flies over sand dunes on the high desert (03:49). A plane lands on the sands and a man stands atop one of the dunes (04:05). A wall runs miles across the desert and back into the mountains. It is supposedly the Great Wall of Peru. Footage shows several shots of the wall, as well as the ruins of an old stone fort. Back in the air, the expedition flies over Cusco, giving a good view of the city’s center and cathedral (05:21). They land on a grassy airstrip near the city (06:18) and tour Cusco. There is a good shot of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, also called the Cusco Cathedral (07:03), as well as the foundation stones of an old Incan temple. Llamas stand around a square (07:15); a man herds several llamas down a narrow city street. Women and children sit with piles of llama wool and make thread for weaving. Women sit and eat llama stew (08:45), while the men stand and eat the meal. People crowd part of a market selling produce. Outside the city, people crush wheat by hand (09:40) and by having horses run over piles of wheat. People load a sack of wheat onto a donkey (11:07). A church procession marking the Feast of Corpus Cristi moves through Cusco (11:18). Back in the air, the expedition flies past and over the massive volcano El Misti (11:54). Arequipa, known as the “City of Silver,” sits at foot of El Misti (13:04). On the outskirts of Arequipa, people gather for a bull fight: two bulls fight each other, butting heads and trying to pacify the other with their horns (13:33). From Arequipa, the expedition trades their planes for mules loaded with supplies (14:50), and they set off for the Lost Valley. The team leaves the town (15:38) and crosses a suspension bridge. An aerial view shows the next destination, the Valley of Volcanoes (15:55). There, they visit the small town of Andagua (16:48). The expedition party pitches tents in the bottom of an old volcano. Two men use a small chisel hammer to open a can of beans (17:42). They climb up the Cave of Skulls (18:30). Men find human skeletons there, and the expedition’s young dog plays with a human skull in a pool of water. The expedition crosses another suspension bridge over a river (19:14), and then treks along at 18,000 feet, with the snow-capped peaks of the Peruvian Cordillera range looming in the background. They arrive at the Lost Valley (20:31). At a village, they see a woman husks wheat using her feet to mash wheat in a stone bowl that resembles a molcajete (21:08). A Franciscan church stands in the middle of the village (22:24) reinforced against earthquakes. Footage shows inside the church with ornate carvings and wood work. A statue of Santiago stands outside the church. A pilot flies a plane over the village to pick up a message (23:28), then comes back and drops off supplies. Shippee and Johnson speak with men of the town, and they convince the men to build an airstrip so the plane can return and land, in what the narrator refers to as the “festival of the airplane.” Men dig out a large boulder and knock it down a cliff side (24:58). Women move dirt using a blanket (25:38). Men use picks to level earth. They get magnesium to create landing strip lines. A parade of the people of the Lost Valley marches to greet the arrival of the airplane (26:54). The plane flies through the sky, then nears the airstrip (27:42) and lands as members of the 14 villages of the Lost Valley watch the event. People march around the plane then pose in front of the plane for a photograph. A man plays an instrument that looks somewhat like a harp and another man plays a harp. Women dance a traditional dance. A man holds the silver standard of the Lost Valley. Women pour el chicha brew for everyone (29:54). Shippee and Johnson hold a dog and a baby goat. The plane takes off from the Lost Valley (30:58), concluding the film.

This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com

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