Airplane trestle

On July 22, 1979, Mason resident Bronson Potter flew his plane under the Greenville railroad trestle, thrilling spectators and prompting the FAA to revoke his pilot’s license. To mark the event’s 40th anniversary, the world premiere of a recently rediscovered home movie of Potter’s stunt will be held on Friday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m. at Mason Town Hall, 6 Meetinghouse Hill Road. The program is free and the public is invited; sharing of Bronson Potter stories is encouraged.

MASON — It’s a moment no one who saw it live will ever forget — a plane flying under a railroad trestle in Greenville.

Airplane trestle

BRONSON POTTER

Now all will be able to enjoy the legendary feat when movie footage depicting the famed fly-under is shown next month in Mason.

The aerial stunt, on July 22, 1979, attracted crowds from throughout the region to the huge railroad trestle that once spanned the Souhegan River in Greenville. They watched local inventor and pilot Bronson Potter’s “Great Greenville Trestle Fly-Under,” as it came to be known in the Seventies.

Now, 40 years later, motion picture footage of the event has surfaced.

Taken by local resident Dave Morrison, the long unseen 8 mm home movie footage will receive its public world premiere showing on Friday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m. at Mason Town Hall on Meetinghouse Hill Road.

The program, which is free and open to the public, will be hosted by Jeff Rapsis, executive director of the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire in Londonderry.

“Although the footage has been transferred to digital format, the original 8mm film will be projected for the premiere,” Rapsis said in a statement.

The film, which lasts about five minutes, contains scenes of Potter flying several practice runs toward the bridge while spectators watched on nearby Route 31.

“It then captures the daring run under the trestle, for which Potter had to fly through a narrow space between a metal support tower and a solid granite pillar,” Rapsis said in the statement. “At the time, pictures of Potter’s plane zipping under the trestle made newspapers around the region.”

Airplane trestle

The gravestone of Mason resident Bronson Potter, who died in 2004, includes a depiction of the local pilot’s infamous 1979 flight under the Greenville railroad trestle. To mark its the stunt’s 40th anniversary, the world premiere of recently rediscovered home movie film of Potter’s stunt will be held on Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Mason Town Hall, 6 Meetinghouse Hill Road, Mason, N.H. The program is free and the public is invited; sharing of Bronson Potter stories are encouraged. John Poltrack Photo.

The publicity led the FAA to temporarily suspend Potter’s pilot’s license.

The film has no soundtrack; live music will be provided by Rapsis, who accompanies silent film programs each month at Wilton’s Town Hall Theatre.

The railroad trestle, once the highest in the state, was taken down in 1984 after the Boston & Maine railroad abandoned the line to Greenville.

Rapsis said local residents who attend will be encouraged to share recollections and stories about Potter, a longtime Mason resident and eccentric inventor who died in 2004. His gravestone features a carved image of his plane flying beneath the towering trestle.

Potter, a Harvard University graduate, lived much of his life in Mason. After his death, he bequeathed more than 500 acres of land to the Mason Conservation Commission, the largest such gift in the town’s history.

To help preserve memories and stories about Potter, local filmmaker Bill Millios will be on hand to arrange for interviews with residents; the footage will be used by the Aviation Museum to create a mini-documentary about Potter and his legendary stunt.

Although the trestle was dismantled, the granite abutments still tower over the Souhegan. Using a drone-mounted camera, Millios plans to re-create Potter’s daring flight near the granite pillar from the pilot’s eye-view.

Donations will be accepted to help defray expenses. The event is sponsored by Monadnock Security Systems, Inc. of Mason; G.W. Shaw & Son of Greenville; Kim Hemmer of EdwardJones, Milford; the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire; the Mason Conservation Commission; and Back Lot Films.

Saturday, December 07, 2019