6. Twelve O’clock High. Sorry, another second world war movie. This one stars Gregory Peck as Brigadier General Frank Savage, who takes over the United States 918th Bomb Group, to lick it back into shape after a series of leadership disasters. The film has often been used by management development organisations as a great example of ‘situational leadership’. A variety of clips from the film are available legally on YouTube – search for Twelve O’clock High (surprise).
7. Spirit of St Louis. With James Stewart as Charles Lindbergh, this is the 1957 biopic of the story behind, and of, the first solo pilot aeroplane crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to Paris – in fact, the aeroplane, built by Ryan Airlines specially for the trip, was designated ‘NYP’ for New York-Paris. It was built in only 60 days. For safety reasons – mainly the positioning of the oil tank ahead of the pilot – there could be no forward facing windshield. The aircraft carried over 1,700 litres of fuel for the flight and (barely) took off as it was about 450 kilos overweight. Contrary to the bitumen runway take-off scene in the film, the aircraft actually took off from a muddy grass field, with a 5-knot tail wind. The flight took 33 and a half hours. Here’s a link to the Spirit of St Louis film trailer and here’s a link to a series of short archival films about the event – click on the chapter title in the screen centre to open & watch each clip.
9. Dark Blue World. This one’s just about at the other end of the spectrum from ‘Those Magnificent Men…’. It’s basically a love story involving Czech pilots flying for the RAF during world war 2. The cinematography is excellent, the story is…but I won’t spoil it for you. I suppose I’m just a big softie at heart. Well worth a watch and here’s the trailer: Dark Blue World
10. Dark Star. Now this one is not technically a flying movie but it’s one of the most hilarious space ship films I’ve seen. It’s maybe my immature sense of humour but even after all these years, it still brings a great grin to my face. Basically, it’s a very tongue in cheek story about a planetary demolition team, their dreams, their experiences and their encounters with alien life. And coping with a bomb with a mind of its own, which believes its destiny is to explode. Here’s the trailer: Dark Star