What happened to Christopher Pickup from The Grim Game

Pickup Thompson Kennedy HoudiniWell, I previously did posts on what happened to Robert Kennedy and Frank Thompson, after “The Grim Game” respectively.  So, it is probably only fair that I share some info on Christopher Pickup, who flew the drop plane.  The below information is from an Aviation Autograph Collector selling items on eBay:

PICKUP, Christopher Vern.  PILOT IN A 1919 HOUDINI MOVIE AND U. S. AIR MAIL SERVICE PILOT.  (1896- ). SGT, 4th Cavalry (1913-14); USAS flight instruction (1916); Langley Field VA (1917); 2nd LT and flight instructor (1918-19); Durant Aircraft Co.; pilot for Cecil B. DeMille films (1919-20); flew in the Harry Houdini movie The Grim Game, colliding with David E. Thompson while Robert E. Kennedy hung suspended on a rope below Pickup’s aircraft. The props of both planes were shattered in a collision and both pilots were able to land their damaged planes, Kennedy, miraculously, suffering only bruises and abrasions being dragged along the ground during the landing (1919); U. S. Air Mail Service pilot (1920-21); appointed 8-25-1920 and assigned at Cheyenne WY (1920-21); he was apparently separated for not returning from leave (1921); Mercury Aviation, Los Angeles; Mexican Aerial Transport Corp. (1921-22); his request for reinstatement in the U. S. Air Mail Service was declined at the suggestion of the USAMS chief pilot (1924); FBO at Hoover Field Washington DC (1925-26); flew air mail for Clifford Ball, CAM 11 and Thompson Aeronautical Corp. on CAM 27 (1928); Transport Pilot rating no. 735 (1928); USMCR; air mail pilot for Boeing Air Transport (1927-40); his plane caught fire on an emergency landing at Elm Creek NE while flying CAM 18, Chicago-San Francisco (1929); member of the “Caterpillar Club” after abandoning an aircraft over Pittsburgh PA (1930); United Air Lines captain (1940- ).

Kennedy Forrest Thompson Pickup Wilson WillatBonus:

COPY of the pilot’s original Post Office Department “AIR MAIL PILOTS APPLICATION”, Form 2707 dated 5/16/1928 for his Contract Air Mail pilot service with CLIFFORD BALL

Pickup Application Form Page 1Pickup Application Form Page 2

6 thoughts on “What happened to Christopher Pickup from The Grim Game

    • The Caterpillar Club is an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft. After authentication by the parachute maker, applicants receive a membership certificate and a distinctive lapel pin.
      Houdini’s Master Mystery Aeroplane accident would not qualify:
      He got out of an aeroplane in the studio, and something went wrong with the parachute he caught himself just in time. As the camera was “grinding,” several hundred feet of film not in the scenario could have added an extra chapter.

  1. That pic appears to be post crash. As Kennedy is there, it debunks DeMille’s story that the pilots chased him away immediately after the accident. Too bad. I liked that story. 🙂

  2. Chris was my great grandfather, our family donated a lot of his memorabilia where it can be viewed today at the Smithsonian. He was shot down (KIA) while working as a contracted transport pilot in WW2, pacific theater I believe. His oldest Son served in the 82Abn in WW2 with service in Africa and Europe later retiring from United Airlines. His youngest Son was killed in Cambodia on tramac at takeoff during the US evacuation from Phnom-Pen, contracted pilot as well.

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