Monday, February 19, 2007

Combining loves of movies and aviation

Howard Hughes successfully killed two birds with one (thoroughly disinfected) stone by directing and producing movies about aviation.

Hughes wrote and directed the World War I epic "Hell's Angels," which began filming in 1928. He assembled an array of 87 World War I aircraft and personally directed the aerial combat scenes over Mines Field (now Los Angeles International Airport).

Filming for "Jet Pilot," starring John Wayne, began in 1949 and extended through 1951. Hughes continued to perfect the aerial scenes, and the film was not released until 1957. In this era before computer-generated imagery, Hughes needed real airplanes to film his scenes. Thanks to his pioneering work in aviation, the U.S. Air Force was willing to help him out. Segments included exceptional F-86 aerial scenes with pilot Chuck Yeager at the controls of one of the Sabre Jets. Moviegoers also saw footage of Northrop's XF-89 Scorpion prototype—which appeared as a Russian fighter.


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