Over its 130 years, Tower Bridge has been the location of a number of daring feats.

From planes flying straight through the middle to a London bus jumping over the rising bascules.

Frank McClean flies through Tower Bridge

1912: The first flythrough

Only nine years after the Wright Brothers' initial flight, aviator Frank McClean flew through Tower Bridge.

On 10 August, McClean piloted his Short-Farman hydroplane between the road and upper walkways of Tower Bridge. Not satisfied with his first exploit, he continued upstream, dipping under every remaining bridge as far up the Thames as Westminster.

He later told the press “It isn't so risky as it appears, For the arches of the bridges are tremendous things when you get close to them."

McLean’s confidence however would be short lived. On the return trip, a sidewind hooked him into the water as he was attempting to fly under Tower Bridge. Fortunately, though, McClean was unhurt, and his beloved seaplane was towed to shore for repair.

© Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

1917: Parachute jumps

The 'Guardian Angel Parachute' was developed during the First World War. Before the invention of the 'ripcord', this parachute was opened by the falling weight of the jumper. 

A display to test the parachute took place on Tower Bridge on 11 November 1917. Major Thomas Orde-Lees leapt headfirst from the road level of the Bridge, only 150 feet above the River Thames. The parachute opened just before Orde Lees hit the water.

This was the lowest parachute jump to date, by several hundred feet.

They wanted to demonstrate the parachute's effectiveness at low altitudes to the Royal Air Force. And it must have impressed, as this is believed to have provided an inspiration in exploring the viability of forming a Parachute Regiment for the British Army.

Tower Bridge Bascule lift

1951: A risky bet

Frank Miller, a 39-year-old Chemist from Essex, was fined for flying an aircraft through Tower Bridge on 25 November 1951. Although he was not the first to do this, his excuse was the most surprising.

Miller blamed it on his 13-year-old son, saying that he had dared him to do it for 35 shillings.

Unfortunately for Frank, this did not cover the £100 fine he got in court afterwards.

Tower Bridge and London Bus

1952: The bus jump

On a winter's night, bus driver Albert Gunter was happily going about his job, driving the number 78 over Tower Bridge towards Shoreditch. To his utter surprise, the road in front of him seemed to drop away. The Bridge was lifting. 

His fast actions saw him slam on the accelerator and sail over the bascules to land safety on the other side. 

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1968: Jet plane

On 5 April 1968, an RAF pilot, angered by the decisions of his high command, broke formation, and flew over London.

Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock decided to fly his Hawker Hunter jet, measuring 10m in wingspan, low over the Houses of Parliament in protest at Harold Wilson's government, who it transpired had been stripping back on financing the Air Force. Pollock was also dissatisfied at the lack-luster plans to mark the RAF's 50th anniversary.

In a one-man air display, he flew his plane through the gap in Tower Bridge. 

He said "It was easy enough to fly over it, but the idea of flying through the spans suddenly struck me. I had just 10 seconds to grapple with the seductive proposition which few ground attack pilots of any nationality could have resisted. My brain started racing to reach a decision. Years of fast low-level strike flying made the decision simple...".

This was the first and last time a jet plane was flown under the Bridge's Walkways.

Painting of Hawker Hunter flying through Tower Bridge © Gary Eason / Flight Artworks

Painting: 'Seven seconds - the Tower Bridge Hawker Hunter incident' © Gary Eason / Flight Artworks

Robbie Maddison jumps over Tower Bridge

2009: One giant leap

In the early hours of 13 July, Australian motorbike stunt performer, Robbie Maddison, became the first person in history to jump the bascules of Tower Bridge on a motorbike.

The Bridge was partially lifted, and Maddison used the bascules as a take-off and landing ramp as he jumped the gap above the River Thames. He was driving at around 40mph as he approached the middle of the Bridge, he then performed a backflip before landing in front of the South Tower unharmed.

Two helicopters fly through Tower Bridge in 2012

2012: For Queen and country

In more recent memory, two helicopters flew through Tower Bridge carrying a stunt double of the Queen for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, held in London from 27 to 12 August that year.

This was part of a scene involving James Bond. 007 was visiting Buckingham Palace to collect the Queen. The sequence ended with the ‘Queen’ parachuting out of the helicopter into the London Olympic Stadium, in Stratford.

Royal connections

Two men in wingsuits fly through Tower Bridge, between the Walkways and the Bascules, with a pink sunrise in the background

2024: Wingsuit flythrough

On 12 May, two Austrian skydivers, Marco Fürst and Marco Waltenspiel, made history by becoming the first people to navigate a wingsuit flight through London's iconic landmark. 

After leaping from a Helicopter, the pair descended from an altitude of 3,000ft and flew across the River Thames 35m above the water between the Bridge's Towers.

After flying through the Bridge, the duo performed a complex 'flare' manoeuvre to safely ascend and deploy parachutes.

Reaching a top speed of 246 km/h, they completed the jump and landed safely within 45 seconds.