|Boeing in the News|
|B-52 aging gracefully at 50
photo, taken the day of last month's 50th anniversary event in Wichita,
Kan., captures the enormity of the B-52 Stratofortress and its 185-foot
wingspan. Amid much media and employee fanfare, the U.S. Air Force and
Boeing celebrated the B-52's half century at a golden anniversary ceremony
April 12. Almost 8,000 current and retired Air Force and Boeing personnel
attended. The Boeing YB-52 prototype made its first flight on April 15,
1952. The Stratofortress has remained operational longer than any other
bomber in U.S. military history.
MH-6 helicopter key part of 'Black Hawk Down' rescue
Although a low-profile product due to its Special Forces customer, the Mesa-built MH-6 'Little Bird' helicopter was featured in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down," which depict the firefight in the streets of Mogadishu in 1993 in which Americans were under fire and rescued. During that summer, elements of the U.S. Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment from Ft. Campbell, Ky., were deployed to Somalia. They took with them an unspecified number of MH-6 Little Bird helicopters. On a mission to insert Special Forces during the search for a Somali warlord on Oct. 3, the regiment lost five crewmen and two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to hostile ground fire in Mogadishu. Other aircrews tried to rescue the downed comrades. In one of many rescue missions, a Boeing MH-6 Little Bird landed near the wreckage of an MH-60 in a narrow street. Under intense ground fire, the MH-6 took off with a survivor holding on to the skids. The Boeing Light Helicopter operation was sold to a Dutch company in 1999, which now markets the helicopter line under the banner of MD Helicopters Inc., a privately held company.
'American Fighter Pilot' series gets early grounding
For a couple episodes at least, national television audiences got an insider's view of what life is like for pilots of the Boeing-built F-15 Eagle through a short-lived CBS reality-based series. "American Fighter Pilot" - which premiered March 29 and found itself prematurely grounded soon after - let viewers see the professional and personal challenges F-15 student pilots face during 110 days of training. According to U.S. Air Force reports, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida served as a filming location for two years, and was the setting of in-depth interviews with student and instructor pilots and the academic instructors. Fully supported by the Air Force, the filming crew spent more than 18 months round-the-clock at Tyndall, shadowing the fighter pilots-to-be. To get the necessary aerial footage, crews filmed from the back seats of F-15s and affixed cameras to aircraft to capture training sessions. In addition to from-the-cockpit shots, camera crews followed these Top Guns-in-training from their homes to churches to local businesses in order to capture the culture and lifestyles of fighter pilots. Making sure the resulting footage was Hollywood ready were Tony Scott, "Top Gun" director, and director Ridley Scott of "Black Hawk Down" fame. Executive producers were documentary filmmaker Jesse Negron and Brian Gadinski, the first producer of TV's "America's Most Wanted."
International Space Station goes 3-D
IMAX moviegoers across the United States and abroad get a chance to experience life - albeit from their stadium theater seats - on the International Space Station. And they get actor and space buff Tom Cruise as their intergalactic tour guide. "Space Station 3D" will transport viewers 220 miles above earth as they blast off with astronauts from Florida's Kennedy Space Center and Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome for the orbiting station. The film lets viewers hitch a ride on the ISS' loading arm during a spacewalk, drift freely in space as they test an individual propulsion pack, and duck flying debris as it sails toward the screen - all at zero gravity. Boeing is the ISS' prime contractor and is a 50 percent partner in United Space Alliance, which is responsible for the pre- and post-flight work done on the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet. The 47-minute film - billed as the first-ever IMAX 3-D space film - made its debut April 19 at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and is co-sponsored by the museum, IMAX, and Lockheed Martin. The film later opened at about 24 U.S. theaters and more than 100 worldwide. In addition to dramatic three-dimension effects, the film also offers a peek at astronauts' daily routines - exercising, making repairs, and installing equipment. They aren't filmmakers in their regular lives, but astronauts aboard the ISS were trained to shoot footage using specially built cameras. And "Space Station 3D" producer-director Toni Myers faced a unique challenge - directing her novice cinematographers from Earth.
Stratocruiser, DC-3 celebrated in Chicago
A Boeing Model 377 Stratocruiser has found a home in one of Chicago's newest luxury hotels. On the sixth floor of The Peninsula Chicago is a "Wings of Chicago" suite of meeting and boardrooms that pays tribute - through historical aviation display décor - to the development of American commercial aviation. A model of the glamorous 1950 Stratocruiser - whose main cabin accommodated up to 100 passengers - has been the main attraction in the "Wings of Chicago" pre-function area. The suite's theme celebrates Chicago's status as an early aviation hub of the United States.
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