Given the job of training young pilots for important post-war cargo flights, hard-boiled Col. Stockton forces ex-officer Stag Cahill back into the military to be his aide at the academy. ... See full summary »
Features 1935 original Hughes H-1 RACER, Transcontinental non-stop speed record 1937-01-19, 2,490 miles at avg. speed 332 mph over 7 hr.,28min.,25 sec., currently located at National Air & Space Museum and also featured in the recent movie "The Aviator." See more »
Great for aviation buffs, but for the rest it's pretty much a dud
The film has two main themes. A world-famous aviator (Dix) has slowly destroyed his once amazing career and he has his pilot's license revoked for being drunk in the cockpit. The film is about his rebuilding his life, though through very long stretches of the film he is absent or practically absent as the second plot took precedence during most of the film. A small aircraft manufacturer is trying to design a fighter plane in order to win a lucrative government contract. So much of the film concerns the struggles they go through as well as a budding relationship that never seems to get off the ground between the project manager and a female draftsman.
As far as the plane goes, I know most who see the film won't notice some of the problems with how they executed the flying sequences and the plane itself. While the plane is supposed to be "the latest thing" and capable of flying over 400 m.p.h., the design is actually similar to experimental craft being produced from 1932-1936 (looking a lot like the airplane used in the old Universal Studios intros), so in so many ways the craft was totally obsolete. This isn't a real issue for the average person, but hey, for us aviation buffs it is noticeable. But what IS noticeable even for the casual viewer are the silly physics of the plane as it flies. It's very obviously a model and it executes turns that no plane EVER could make--making the tiniest loop-to-loops and spins in history! A little more money and effort could have made for much more realistic and less silly flying sequences. However, even despite these problems, the movie is about a seldom discussed topic and I found it very interesting from a historical standpoint.
As for me, personally, I would score this movie a 6 or 7, since I am a huge fan of the history of aviation and am a school teacher. However, I also understand that for the average viewer, this film will no doubt be pretty dull stuff and provide little entertainment. Also, as far as a the romance goes, it never really made much sense and never seemed to get past minor infatuation. Plus, for fans of Richard Dix (and there must be a few out there), his role in the film is pretty small and not especially heroic--despite him receiving top billing.
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