10 films for flyers – part 2

Dark Blue WorldHere’s my second five of 10 films for flyers:

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.

8. Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. What more can I say? This is just a lot of spiffingly good harmless fun….here’s a link to the film trailer: Those Magnificent Men

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

Happy viewing!

10 films for flyers – part 1

Capricorn One ChaseI don’t often go to the cinema but when I do, I want to see a good film. And if it’s a film that includes aeroplanes and flying, it needs to be very good.

Here’s a short list of some of my more favourite films (in no particular order) which include flying sequences or aeroplanes. I have left out those old war cliches like Top Gun, The Dam Busters, and Battle of Britain and Tora Tora Tora and listed some of the maybe lesser known but equally interesting movies.

1. One-Six Right. This is a great documentary film on high resolution DVD that celebrates the unsung hero of aviation – the local airport. Featuring magnificent air-to-air photography, the film dispels misconceptions and criticism of General Aviation airports. Through the love story of one airport, past to present, the film shares the timeless romance of flying with all ages. It should be compulsory viewing for all politicians who cannot see the value of having local airports. Here’s a link to the opening sequence (lo-res, sorry): One-Six Right

2. Catch-22. This is one out of the box. Based on Joseph Heller’s best selling book of the same name, the 1970 film follows the story of a B-25 squadron during World War 2. The ‘Catch-22’ of the title is based on an insoluble problem like: if you lose your glasses, you can’t see to find them. Have a look at the official film trailer here for a complete explanation. The film is hilarious and shocking in almost equal measure and must be one of the more provocative war films made.

3. The High & the Mighty. Starring John Wayne and Robert Stack, this 1954 film is about a DC-4 airliner on a night journey from Honolulu to San Francisco. Although set in the airliner, with engine and fuel problems, the film is really an interesting drama about people with all sorts skeletons in (and not so ‘in’) their cupboards. Good fun. Interesting fact – composer Dimitri Tiomkin won an Academy Award for his original film music score including the title song, but the title song did not actually appear in release prints. Here’s a (very low quality) clip of John Wayne being very macho in the cockpit.

4. The Flight of the Phoenix. This is one for all you amateur builders out there. Dennis Quaid stars in this 2004 remake of the 1965 film, based on the novel of the same name. Flying across the Gobi Desert, a Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar crashes. As its name suggests, the C-119 is not the most photogenic of aircraft, with its inverted gull-wing and high twin-tail boom design. But the aircraft design does at least make the story reasonably plausible. It tells of how the crew transforms the crashed aircraft into a single engine version to enable them to fly out. Needless to say, the story takes many twists and turns and not everyone makes it out. Not very successful at the box office, it’s an interesting film nevertheless.

5. Capricorn One. Although a thriller about a faked Mars landing, it includes one of the best aeroplane chases on film. Here’s a link to the whole chase: Capricorn One Bi-Plane Helicopter Chase. This film was made in the days before computer generated graphics (CGI) and remote controlled helicopters, so all the footage is shot for real – and very well shot too. Interesting fact: Telly Savalas – he of ‘Kojak’ detective fame – plays the role of the crop dusting pilot who rescues our hero (Elliot Gould) in his red bi-plane.

Look out for part 2 coming up soon. Meanwhile – do you have any favourite flying films?