Okay, here I am with more movie war stories to bore you with again.
Interesting to hear your comments. I haven't seen it yet, and I should, although I fear I will be disappointed because of my prior experiences.
I was the aerial unit camera operator on The Tuskegee Airmen back in early '95, and I flew several fighters in my military career. It was the experience of a lifetime on this movie because we really went up in the B-17 and P-51s. My camera assistant and I flew in the B-17 using a 35mm handheld camera to shoot POVs of the P-51 from several locations such as the waist gunners and cockpit. We also had to dress in period wardrobe because there was a chase camera aircraft shooting the entire formation. We used an Arriflex camera (German-made) rather than the obviously modern Panavision camera just in case it was in sight to the camera ship.
The only problem with this shoot was the fact that the pilots who owned and flew the P-51s (yeah, all white guys in black face), had little or no experience flying formation. While doing the hero shot where the B-17 and Red Tails are seen in formation together the first time, the P-51 guys moved into positions that are not done in formation flying for safety reasons (wings overlapped and/or one aircraft positioned above the other). This is quite unsafe because the P-51 pilots are in a position where they cannot keep complete site of the lead aircraft, the B-17. Fortunately, the B-17 pilots and myself saw this immediately and had them move out to proper formation positions and still got the shots.
Aerial unit director and fabuous film pilot, Kevin LaRosa, had a rotary engine fomer Navy trainer aircraft there (can't remember the designation) that had tandem seating. He had designed a camera pod that would attach to an underwing weapon station on the plane. The pod housed a 35mm camera that faced forward. The back seat of the plane had a video monitor feed from the camera, and the on/off switch, etc. I rode in the back with Kevin, and we used this to shoot fighter POVs and background plates. I was just there to turn on and off and enjoy the ride, but Kevin let me fly it a bit, too.
The aerial unit shot for two weeks or more out of the Muskogee, OK airport until we got snowed out. I was kept on the principal unit as an additional camera and to shoot pickup work. The principal unit shot mostly on Ft. Chaffee, an innactive army post near Ft. Smith, Arkansas. (This was also the location for A Soldier Story.) The cast was very enjoyable to work with, and I find it interesting that some of the cast is the same in the two movies.
I know that I would find the CG aircraft performance a disappointment because their aerodynamic performance is always more like X-wing fighters than real aircraft once the dogfights begin.
I just don't see the CG animators ever being able to capture the kind of realism you can with the real machines.
I don't know why this movie would be made (re-made?) unless it was just to showcase the CG.
On a trivia note, I came across the same B-17 six months later in DeMoines, IA at an airshow on a Sunday while I was there doing Twister. Amazingly, the volunteer flight engineer with the plane for that airshow was Gene Kranz of Apollo 13 fame. It was quite amazing to meet and talk to him for a while. Bill Paxton had gotten to know Gene Kranz while doing Apollo 13 (which was in theaters at that time), and was also quite surprised when I told him the next day on location on Twister that I had run into him there.
On a final coincidental note, one of our fellow pilots in the 162nd Fighter Group (Air Guard) in Tucson was the son of one of the Red Tail pilots. Small world.
I guess I'll get the lead out and go see this thing. Fingers crossed. Cheers.