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Thread: Aviator

  1. #1
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    Default Aviator

    I just saw the Howard Hughes movie Aviator last weekend. I know that they used a modified Bt-13, models and some CGI for the Hughes racer (because Jim Wright was killed before principle photography). However, there is about 20 seconds of aerial footage that doesn't look CGI or like a model. The plane is flying near a mountain range and does a 180 deg. skidding turn. Does anyone know (not think) if footage of the replica was used at all? It's possible that it was a large RC model but it looked great. I'd like to hear the inside story on that.

    Thanks,
    Chris

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    Default Re: Aviator

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris300s
    I just saw the Howard Hughes movie Aviator last weekend. I know that they used a modified Bt-13, models and some CGI for the Hughes racer (because Jim Wright was killed before principle photography). However, there is about 20 seconds of aerial footage that doesn't look CGI or like a model. The plane is flying near a mountain range and does a 180 deg. skidding turn. Does anyone know (not think) if footage of the replica was used at all? It's possible that it was a large RC model but it looked great. I'd like to hear the inside story on that.

    Thanks,
    Chris
    I don't have any "official" details but I know there was some pretty high quality footage shot by a private party at one time, and I know the producers of the film were looking for footage and sound bites. They may well have found a bit of the stuff the guy shot as good enough for their film and gone with it.

    From what I heard Jim and the crew talk about before losing him, they were pretty sure they were not going to allow Hollywood to use the airplane. They had begun to feel kind of "bitten" by the media, partly due to the fellow who did the shoot for Air & Space, who, while being an award winning photographer, was shown to be lacking in people skills. When he was asked not to shoot pictures of the damaged airplane after the landing gear incident that happened just after his shoot, he simply walked a ways away, changed to a longer lens and shot away...

    There's more but I've probably already violated trust by saying as much as I have but it is a sore spot (very) with me and every time I think about it it makes my skin crawl...

    I can't wait to see the movie!

    I worked with a producer out of the LA area earlier this year who is doing one of those "Howard Huges The Aviator, the Real Story" sort of things. We provided him an engine start and flyby recording. From what he told me in a conversation after production started, the sound bite was to be featured in the intro for the production.. I'm hoping someone buys it and airs it.. It should be on cable once it is all said and done and he is *supposed* to let me know when and where once it's inked.. should be fun year for aviation movies and such. I hear the Spruce Goose Museum is getting a lot of attention due to this movie..!

    It's a good thing when Hollywood makes movies with airplanes in them!

    Wayne

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Aviator

    I forgot to mention that the movie was fantastic! During the first 20 minutes (the "Hells Angels" scene's) my fiance asked why my hand was sweating. She later stated that we were probably the only people in the theater that had seen the real one fly...
    I can't put into words what a tragedy the loss of Jim Wright was, nor can I begin to compare seeing the H-1 at Reno vs. the movie. I can say that if you saw the real one, it'll make the movie a little cooler.
    I hope that the museum sells a million tickets.
    As an aside, do you know if the Wright family had any plans for Jim's drawings and tooling?

    Chris

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    Default Re: Aviator

    I saw the movie Sunday.

    I could have sworn the H-1 was changing from short wing version to long wing version during some of the scene.......hmmmmmmmm

    Could have just been a reaction I was having to the butter flavored substance on my popcorn......... RG

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Aviator

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris300s
    As an aside, do you know if the Wright family had any plans for Jim's drawings and tooling?
    Chris,

    The last time I visited, unfortunately, was the day of the service for Jim. At that time, of course, nobody really knew what they were going to do. I do know that the crew would have loved to continue with Jim's dream to keep building classic, rare or non-existant, repro's of historic airplanes.. The Lockheed Sirrius was to be their next project.

    It would be wonderful if they did continue with this wonderful man's dreams, however, I can totally understand if his wife, Betty, did not have the stomach for it..

    Jim was one of those one of a kind people you meet, totally and I mean TOTALLY unselfish, giving and caring.. The kind of guy who made an immediate and correct judgement of everyone he met. Probably in many ways, like Hughes himself. Certainly, he shared the enthusiasim for researching and developing things mechanical, both men owned and operated machine tool companies.. were innovaters, did great things for their communities, etc..

    I'll always cherish my time with him as one of the rare rewards given for simply asking a question.... "do you mind if I stop by the hangar and take some pictures"...

    I'll never forget what he did while I was there that first day.. they broke for lunch, HE AND THE CREW TOOK THE AIRPLANE DOWN OFF THE JACKS, OPENED THE HANGAR DOOR AND TOOK THE AIRPLANE OUTSIDE FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then they left me totally alone with the airplane with and a ladder... he TRUSTED me based on his judgement of me on the first few minutes we were together..

    Bill Rogers did a similar thing one late afternoon with MAII for me... I can't tell you how good it makes you feel!

    Jim also set up my air to air session with the airplane, at his expense, taking off the rear emergency exit window on his classic Bonanza and then doing test flights with it to see how it handled, prior to calling me and inviting me down for my session... Jim Wright got me into my first slot in a magazine with that shoot... I made my first dollar from his generousity...

    That's the kind of guy Jim Wright was and still is.. I believe he's still flying in and out of the now named Jim Wright Airport down in his home town of Cottage Grove, Oregon..

    I've spewed much more in this response than was asked for but every time I think of that man and the group that he worked with, I choke up. The only framed photo I have in my home/office at this time is one of him looking over and smiling in his Bonanza at me from his Hughes... It was an incredible moment for me, absolutely unforgetable.

    As was he...

    Thanks for putting up with my elongated answer.

    Wayne

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Aviator

    The switch between long-winged and short-winged H-1's is what struck me first (could have been a model, eh?). Then the flying near the mountains got me thinking; "I wonder if that's some of the footage from the Jimmy Leeward air-to-air or if they flew with the POF B-25?"
    Thanks for the response Wayne, I'd love to hear more.

    Chris

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Aviator

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris300s
    The switch between long-winged and short-winged H-1's is what struck me first (could have been a model, eh?). Then the flying near the mountains got me thinking; "I wonder if that's some of the footage from the Jimmy Leeward air-to-air or if they flew with the POF B-25?"
    Thanks for the response Wayne, I'd love to hear more.

    Chris
    Chris, for sure, I don't know everything they did with the airplane but *as far as I know* there never was any video shot air to air. From what I understood, they were going to build a non flying full size "model" for the shots where that would be needed, then, use CGI for the rest. I later read (probably the same place everyone did) that they were using the modified rear cockpit setup to film "in cockpit" flying scenes (that sould add a dash of realisim!)

    The airplane did not get on film or digital nearly enough, again, as far as I know, there were only three "no glass high end camera" photo sessions with the airplane. Mine, the Air & Space guy and another guy, who has a lot of really neat shots on the Wright Tools site.

    The airplane and the pilot did not live NEARLY long enough!

    I'll always cherish the time I spent with both.

    Can't wait to see the movie, I'm down at the coast for the weekend, if I were lucky enough for it to be playing here at Long Beach, WA, I'd give it a go... I doubt that smallsville would have it running though and I'm not yet ready to deal with large town crowds, I'll prolly have to wait a bit till the lines slim down some.

    Wayne

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Aviator

    I am *certain* that I saw one clip of the H-1 that had a *canopy* on it, a'la Wright replica.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Aviator

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Haskin
    I am *certain* that I saw one clip of the H-1 that had a *canopy* on it, a'la Wright replica.
    Randy, that'd be cool if they actually do have some footage of the replica. What do you mean by "canopy" though?

    Wayne

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