SOCIAL SCIENCE: For the Love of "Jennys”
It would start out as a slight murmur from the
distant sky, eventually causing the farmers in their
fields to pause and perk up their ears. Slowly, the
murmur would become a whining hum until finally,
there was no mistaking the sound of an approaching
Jenny. Hoes and rakes would be dropped. the milk
cow would snort in defiance, and the farmers wives
would run out to their expansive front porches.
"They're coming, the barnstormers are coming!
would be shouted out to anyone within earshot.
Barnstorming was a phenomenon that developed
after World War I, in the early 1920s. Aviation was
still a novelty then. and due to a government surplus
of Curtiss JN-4 biplanes (or ”Jennys`), many former
World War l pilots were investing in private owner-
ship of these aircraft. Since commercial airlines had
not yet been established, there was a glut of well-
trained aviators who were not anxious to give up their
abilities or interest in flying but had few other options
for making a living. Thus. barnstorming evolved.
whereby these aviators could attempt to provide for
their families by putting on aerial shows in little towns
all across the country.
Once a flyer had his plane, he needed a place to
demonstrate his skills. So he would pick a spot on a
map and buzz the area. looking for a farmer`s held to
use as a temporary landing strip. Once he landed, the
flyer would make a deal with the farmer who owned
the land. After preparations were made, the pilot
would fly into the town and drop handbills from his
plane, advertising the upcoming event. An air show
was coming to town! Generally. these early air shows
included all sorts of high-flying stunts and aerial
tricks, but the money came in by offering joy rides to
the townspeople for anywhere from $1 to $5.
Amazingly, few people were ever injured during these
fast trips to the sky, and many pilots managed to earn
a decent living.
Every air show was different, depending on the
particular talents of the pilot and his traveling group.
Clyde “Upside-Down" Panghorn, for example, flew
his plane belly-up and could even change from one
position in the plane to another in midair. Many well-
known aviators like Charles Lindbergh even started
out as barnstormers. Lindbergh's particular talents
were wing-walking and parachuting from his plane.
Many flyers would don colorful costumes or dress as
clowns while all those down below would hoot and
holler with approval and excitement. There were
speed racers, wing walkers. and parachutists. The
crowds never knew for sure what new antics the
flyers would come up with next. but they did know
they would be greatly entertained. Most towns
closed down for the day as these events were
anxiously anticipated and attended by all.
Barnstorming didn't last the decade, however,
as government safety regulations sprung up and
instigated the demise of this thrilling pastime- Some
people felt that aerial stunts were far too dangerous.
while others saw these daring pilots as a threat to
aviation as a money-making proposition, even
though commercial airlines had yet to develop. In
addition, the leftover Jennys were rapidly aging and
not being rebuilt by the government. This made the
replacement of parts nearly impossible. Today, the
tem1 barnstorming is often used when referring to
touring politicians or entertainers who visit a large
number of towns and cities in a short period of time;
certainly. todays barnstorming pales by comparison
to its namesake.
The function of the first paragraph (lines 1-10) in relation to the passage as a whole is to:
B. Set the stage for a favorite American pastime.
The first paragraph describes the sounds of an approaching Jenny, and the
reactions of the people and animals down below. The First paragraph builds
suspense and interest without revealing exactly what Jennys and
barnstorming are. This is an example of "setting the stage," answer choice B
Which of the following best describes the way the second paragraph (lines 11-23) functions in the passage as a whole?
C. It explains barnstorming from an historical perspective.
The second paragraph clearly focuses on the history of barnstorming- It is
tilled with historical details such as the time period, and the various reasons
why barnstorming was popular soon after World War I. The paragraph
explains that there was an oversupply of the planes, and many qualified pilots
who needed to make a living. The paragraph explains why it makes sense
that barnstorming was so popular during a specific place and time. The other
answer choices are not supported by the passage.
It can reasonalby be inferred from the passage that:
A. The general population was intrigued and excited by aviation in the early 1900"s.
The passage contains several specific examples illustrating that the general
population was excited by planes and aviation. The first paragraph says that
the farmer’s wives would shout out. “They're coming, the barnstormers are
coming!" which indicates excitement at the arrival of the planes. The fourth
paragraph says that the crowds knew that "they would be greatly entertained,`
and that “most towns closed down for the day as these events were anxiously
anticipated and attended by all."
The reference to Charles Lindbergh is used to illustrate the point made in the passage that:
D. Barnstorming was often performed by skilled, experienced pilots early in their careers.
The fourth paragraph clearly states that "many well-known aviators like
Charles Lindbergh even started out as barnstormers,” and then it goes on to
describe Lindbergh’s particular talents. Lindbergh was eventually known for
his skill and experience, and later he would become famous for demonstrating
Information in Paragraph 3 (lines 24-35) establishes that:
B. Barnstormers made their money from giving rides in their planes.
The third paragraph states that “the money came in by offering joy rides to the
townspeople for anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00." It can be inferred from the
paragraph that there was not a charge to watch the shows, but it is clearly
stated that there was a charge to take a ride with the pilot. The other answer
choices are not supported by the passage.
Which of the following is NOT listed in the passage as an aerial stunt?
D. Dropping handbills
The passage mentions that barnstormers dropped handbills from their planes
as a means of advertising an upcoming event; dropping handbills is not listed
as an aerial stunt.
Information in the passage suggests that:
A. Perhaps there were other reasons besides safety issues that led to the end of barnstorming.
The fifth paragraph lists reasons other than safety issues that led to the end of
barnstorming_ The paragraph states that "others saw these daring pilots as a
threat to aviation.” It also explains that “the leftover Jennys were rapidly aging
and not being rebuilt by the government," which "made the replacement of
parts nearly impossible." The other answer choices are not supported by the
According to the passage, there was a surplus of trained pilots without jobs because:
C. World War I had ended and there were no commercial airlines established yet.
The second paragraph clearly states that "since commercial airlines had not
yet been established, there was a glut of well-trained aviators who were not
anxious to give up their abilities or interest in flying but had few other options
for making a living." This sentence comes right after explaining that "many
former World War I pilots were investing in private ownership of these
Information in Paragraph 4 (lines 39-50) indicates that:
A. Air shows in a particular town probably varied each time they were performed.
The fourth paragraph states that "every air show was different, depending on
the particular talents of the pilot and his traveling group." The paragraph then
goes on to give examples of how these shows could vary, and describes the
diverse talents of t1yers such as Clyde “Upside-Down" Panghorn and Charles
Lindbergh. The other answer choices are not supported by the passage.
The passage indicates that barnstorming ended when:
C. Government regulations were enacted.
The fifth paragraph begins by stating that "government safety regulations
sprung up and instigated the demise of this thrilling pastime," and then it goes
on to give further detail about why barnstorming ended. This information best
supports answer choice H.