The Flying Ace (1926)

1h 5m / Not Rated / Silent, Adventure

THE FLYING ACE will be a FREE “Film Tampa Bay Presents” screening in celebration of Juneteenth. The film – directed by Richard E. Norman and produced by Norman Studios in Jacksonville, FL – features an all-Black cast and tells the story of the dastardly pilot Finley Tucker and the object of his affection, Ruth Sawtelle, who is said to be (very) loosely based on aviator Bessie Coleman. At the time of its release, THE FLYING ACE was advertised as “the greatest airplane thriller ever filmed,” and in 2021, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

This summer’s screening will feature an original musical score, written and performed by Dr. Steven Ball on Tampa Theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, And according to our partners at the Norman Studios, this will be the first time in living memory that the film has been presented with LIVE accompaniment.


Guests are invited to stay after the screening for a panel discussion and audience Q&A moderated by Fred Hearns, Curator of Black History for the Tampa Bay History Center, and featuring:

  • Barbara Wingo: Vice President of Norman Studios
  • Tamika Lamison: Filmmaker and founder of the Make a Film Foundation, which helps kids with terminal medical conditions write and produce their own films, often with celebrity involvement (
  • Layon Gray: Playwright, stage producer, actor and filmmaker based in New York and specializing in telling stories of African American history. A few of his works include stories of black lawman Bass Reeves, the Harlem Rens basketball team, and the Tuskegee Airmen. (
  • Devan Stuart Lesley: Co-founder of the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, Assistant Director and Producer for Jacksonville Beach’s Tandem Media | Tandem Studios and a People magazine correspondent (

The Summer Classics Movie Series has been presented by Bank of America since 2015. Promotional support for the series is provided by WEDU-PBS.

THE FLYING ACE is sponsored by Film Tampa Bay.