Schools Training

Used Airline Equipment Movie Trivia

13 JUL 2012
Career Path : ground support equipment

Film and aviation buffs delight in their trivia, and when the passions overlap, the potential for fun multiplies exponentially. Here are just some of the categories that aviation-in-film “nerds” might propose for a quiz game.


1. Used airline equipment or replica?


Some films arrange for their stunt pilots to fly used airline equipment, stored on airfields dotted with the same kind of ground service equipment that might have provided support to the aircraft in its earlier incarnations as part of a military or commercial fleet.


This reliance on used airline equipment can be seen, for instance, in the movie “Battle of Britain” (1969), for which a fleet of 100 aircraft, including 12 flyable Spitfires and three Hawker Hurricane, was painstakingly assembled.


Like “Catch-22” and other World War II films of the same era, “Battle of Britain” is said to have unwittingly played a significant role in preserving used airline equipment from the World War II years.


Other films rely on replicas rather than on used airline equipment. As the 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove” demonstrates, this is not always a matter of choice. The Pentagon refused to provide the makers of the film with any information on its B-52 bombers. The information was considered classified. The industrious design team had to build its own B-52 bomber, based on a sole photograph from a British flying magazine. No word on how – of if – the ground support equipment was handled. The result for the bomber was so accurate that director Stanley Kubrick feared that his team had somehow secured classified information via illegal means.


“Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machine, Or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes”, released in 1965 but set in 1910, is another example of a film where the crew had to rely on replicas rather than on used airline equipment. The working replicas used authentic materials, but had slightly more powerful motors than the aircraft on which they were based.


Like many films that feature replicas or used airline equipment and ground service equipment, “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines” had a military advisor, in this case, Royal Air Force Air Commodore, Allen H. Wheeler.


2. Name that runway


Some fans of used airline equipment study airport scenes, carefully examining the surroundings and the ground support equipment, to try to identify any real-life runways. The classic 1980 comedy “Airplane!” features a runway from Long Beach, California.


3. Does the used airline equipment on the screen match the soundtrack?


“Airplane!” is renowned in aviation-in-film circles for its mismatched soundtrack. Although the used airline equipment in the film features a jet plane, the soundtrack is a recording a propeller plane.


That’s it for now, but there are many other categories that aviation-in-film buffs might propose for a quiz game: models versus actual used airline equipment, etc. The options are endless!


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