February 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 9 
Integrated Defense Systems
Movie scores direct hit

Boeing-sponsored IMAX film follows pilot at Red Flag training exercise


"Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag," a stunning IMAX film supported by the U.S. Air Force and sponsored by Boeing, is getting rave reviews following its December world premiere at the Smithsonian Institution's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C.


"You may find yourself squirming in your seat as you long once more for the heart-stopping, yet liberating thrill of flight. In that sense at least, the film succeeds in making pilots of us all."

— Dana Stevens, The New York Times

"The rare family-time activity that is educational, enlightening and just might make the whole brood barf."

— Sean Daly, The Washington Post

"The real reason to see this film is its startling, surprisingly moving, footage of F-15 Eagles breaching from clouds, otherworldly Stealth jets floating into view from the edge of Pacific Science Center's six-story screen, or a cockpit view of parting heavens."

— Tom Keogh, Seattle Times

"'Fighter Pilot' soars when skyward. The speed and grace of the aircraft, along with the exquisite cloud formations, make for staggering visuals. ... The stunning aerobatics will blow you away, while the close-ups enhance the sense of intimacy and urgency. This is the real thing."

— Philip Wuntch, The Dallas Morning News

"Fighter Pilot" follows Capt. John "Otter" Stratton, USAF, an F-15 Eagle fighter pilot, through the high-flying Red Flag training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Stratton arrived at the Red Flag exercise along with hundreds of other pilots, ground crews, mechanics and rescue personnel from allied forces. They've also brought along their planes, meaning that at any given time, the skies above Nellis are filled with American F-15s (built by Boeing), German Tornados, F-16s, British Harrier jump jets and Boeing-built Canadian F-18 Hornets.

The midair sequences—all shot during real Red Flag exercises—are exhilarating. It's impressive to see all the aircraft lined up on the tarmac waiting to begin, but when they are all in the air at the same time, it's unbelievable. The immense film format of IMAX—images are projected 10 times larger than conventional 35-millimeter film, and the format can provide crystal clear images up to eight stories high—is ideal for soaring shots of sun-dappled scenes that thrust viewers into aerial dog- fights and mock bombing raids.

Watching the battle unfold from the Boeing-built Airborne Warning & Control System aircraft shows the complex effort that goes on behind the scenes to make this safe but still give the pilots the practice they need to be combat ready.

When they use real ordnance, it's sobering, but it's also comforting to know that the pilots are as prepared as they can be to handle the real thing. And with a camera attached to an F-15, viewers are taken along for the highspeed ride—takeoff, rapid climbs, low-level flying, and rolling maneuvers.

Yet "Fighter Pilot" covers more than just the flying part of Operation Red Flag. It also shows the people who put aircraft in the air and support the mission, such as mechanics, crew chiefs, firefighters and those who do the Foreign Object Debris walk clearing the tarmac of materials that could damage the aircraft.

Movie scores direct hit"This film is a tribute to the outstanding men and women of our military forces, who are today in combat—facing real enemies and real threats—to protect our freedom," said George Muellner, Boeing vice president and general manager, Air Force Systems, at the premiere. "Boeing sponsored this film to showcase the Air Force's great people and equipment and to inspire young people to think about careers in the military and the aerospace industry."

As Stratton fights through the dangerous exercises, he recognizes the support team and other pilots crucial to a safe and successful mission aren't just out to prove themselves. They're helping him by watching his back and taking personal risks to cover his mistakes. And he is doing the same for them. He realizes that being a hero is not quite as simple as he once believed.

"Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag" is still playing at the Udvar-Hazy Center and also is showing at 12 other cinemas worldwide, including locations in the Seattle and San Antonio areas, where Boeing has facilities. "It really gave me a sense of pride to see Boeing aircraft in action and know that you had a part in producing them," said Rich Parker, a 737 Airborne Early Warning & Command manufacturing engineer for Boeing in Kent, Wash.

The film is also slated to appear at 36 other theaters worldwide, including those in areas where Boeing has a presence, such as Los Angeles, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Tulsa, Okla., and the Space Coast region of Florida. For more information, visit www.fighterpilotfilm.com and click on the "Find Theaters" box in the upper right.

About Operation Red Flag

Operation Red Flag is a two-week air-to-air combat, ground-to-air situations, and rescue operations training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Research shows that if a fighter pilot can survive his (or her) first 10 combat missions, the chance of survival during a campaign is dramatically increased. Since being established in 1975, Red Flag has involved the elite aerial forces from all four branches of the U.S. military, NATO and the air forces of 27 other countries.

At the December world premiere of the "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag," U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood said Operation Red Flag grew out of a 1975 study on lessons from the Vietnam War.

"The first Red Flag was flown in November 1975 with only 37 aircraft involved," Wood said. "Today Red Flag numbers near 200 aircraft, 11,000 personnel and 15,000 sorties. This film depicts the pride and power of the United States Air Force."

Operation Red Flag has expanded to include all spectrums of warfare (command, control, intelligence, electronic warfare), and has added night missions to all exercises. As a result of the Nellis Air Combat Training System, the improved tactics, and increased aircraft/aircrew capabilities, the flying safety and combat readiness of the allied forces has improved tremendously.

Upon completion of Red Flag, graduates have accomplished the equivalent of their first 10 combat missions.



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