The High and the Mighty

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Movie, 1954, starring John Wayne himself and written by Ernest K. Gann.

I've a fan of Gann for the last 30 years, ever since I discovered Fate is the Hunter in the little Buttonville pilot shop while waiting for an air ambulance patient.  Fate is the Hunter is an amazing book as almost every pilot knows.  I enjoyed it so much that I trolled used book stores for decades collecting almost every book Gann ever wrote.  The best being his autobiography  - A hostage to Fortune.  

Anyway, The High and the Mighty - it's no Oscar winner but worth watching.  It's playing tomorrow (Saturday) on the Silver Screen channel which is included in my cable package and maybe your's.  Includes my favourite CRM scene too!


Edited by seeker
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3 minutes ago, conehead said:

My wife just watched this over my shoulder, and asked if you’re not supposed to bitch-slap the Captain? ?

Well, it's ok if the Capt wants to ditch in the middle of the Pacific instead of trying to fly to SFO - otherwise - NO.

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Thanks for the reminder seeker. Although I have this on DVD (after a long search) I still tuned in. Funny how the inside door was a DC4 but outside was a C54 with full cargo door. The plane used for the exterior shots and final scene with bent engine mount was this cargo model owned by Trans Ocean. Another DC4 owned by this company did crash in 1964 departing from LAX and was never found.

The Douglas DC-4 (N4665V) used to film the daylight flying sequences and the Honolulu "gate" sequence was a former C-54A-10-DC built as a military transport in 1942 at Long Beach, California, by Douglas Aircraft Company.[14] When the exterior and flying sequences were filmed in November 1953, the airliner was being operated by Oakland, California-based non-scheduled carrier Transocean Airlines[15](1946–1962), the largest civil aviation operator of converted C-54s in the 1950s, and named "The African Queen".[Note 2] Ernest K. Gann wrote the original story while he was flying DC-4s for Transocean over the Hawaii-California routes. The film's fictional airline's name "TOPAC" was painted over the Transocean's red, white and yellow color scheme for filming.

Transocean Airlines director of flight operations Bill Keating did the stunt flying for the movie. Keating and Gann had flown together and the author recommended his friend for the work.[16] During preproduction filming, Keating was involved in a near-incident when simulating the climactic night emergency landing. After several approaches, Wellman asked for "one more take" touching down even closer to the runway's threshold. Keating complied, taking out runway lights with his nose landing gear before "peeling off" and executing a go-around. Wellman quipped that the crash would look good in another film.[17]

A second former C-54 equipped with a large double cargo door[18] used to accommodate the loading of freight on pallets, was employed for all shots of the damaged airliner on the ground at San Francisco in the film's closing sequences. A propellerless, fire-scorched engine on a distorted mount with a 30° "droop" was installed on the left wing of this aircraft to represent the damage which had imperiled the flight. Exterior airport scenes were filmed at the Glendale Grand Central Air Terminal,[19] east of Burbank, California, where an outdoor movie set was constructed to replicate the terminal gates at SFO in the early 1950s. Additional exteriors shots were taken at Oakland International Airport, including all boarding, engine run-up, taxiing and takeoff scenes used in the opening sequences.[20] The external night and damaged in-flight sequences were filmed in a studio where a large-scale miniature was photographed against backdrops. Passenger-cabin and flight-deck interior scenes were all filmed on sets built on a Warner Bros. sound stage.


Edited by blues deville
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