Fantastically good aviation video

F-14D

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There is an outstanding naval aviation documentary called "Speed and Angels", that was filmed in the early to mid part of this decade. It covers two [real] nuggets as they transition to the F-14. There was serious money that went into this and the USN granted unprecedented access and the flying sequences are breathtaking. Sadly, it never found a theatrical distributor; no star sex (in fact, no stars, period), little violence and no place for Bruce Willis to utter a flippant tag line, and for various reasons has only been seen in film festivals, some IMAX theaters and an occasional one-shot in a theater. There was an abortive DVD release last year. Now, however, after years of interest it has been released in DVD and Blu-Ray. Information can be found here: http://www.speedandangels.com/. At present it is only available in Region 1 format, which means that outside of North America you need to either get a Region 1 or "region free" player to view it. This is one of the greatest aviation films I have ever seen.

I have no interest in the production, distribution or sale of this movie except a desire to spread the word about an outstanding film. Most of the way people find out about this is by word of mouth, which is why I'm doing this post. This will never be a giant seller, so there's no way to know how long it will stay available at a reasonable price.

I'm not sure if Secret Projects is the proper place to share info on aviation videos, but---it can't hurt!
 

Mark Nankivil

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I've seen this too and will second what F-14D has said - extremely well done and worth adding to one's DVD collection.

Thanks for the link - will order mine today!

Enjoy the Day! Mark
 

F-14D

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Mark Nankivil said:
I've seen this too and will second what F-14D has said - extremely well done and worth adding to one's DVD collection.

Thanks for the link - will order mine today!

Enjoy the Day! Mark

Speed and Angels is now also available from Amazon.com.

In addition, something else has also become available on DVD after many years... Threshold: the Blue Angels Experience. This movie was shot in the early 1970s (1973, I believe), when both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds were flying the F-4 (J and E models, respectively), a condition I suspect won't occur again until the F-35 is in service. Although I believe it was intended for theatrical release, not that long after production wrapped (in 1974), the Blues converted to A-4Fs (Thunderbirds went to T-38s the same year). This sadly reduced the potential market for the film dramatically. Too bad, it was well produced, was written by Frank Herbert (most famous for his Dune series of Science Fiction novels), narrated by Leslie Nielsen and featured superb photography, great sound and a horrible solidly '70s "inspirational" song at the end.

I've seen the Blues since they were flying the Tiger, and of all their aircraft, the F-4 put on the most impressive show. It was big, it was loud, it was fast (in the F-4 was the only time the Blues ever went supersonic during a show), it was a quantum leap over what they had before and boy was it dramatic! The F-4 wasn't technically the best show mount they had (that title belongs to the A-4F), but it was the most impressive, and of all their craft, it was the one whose shows linger with you over the years. This documentary gives you a feel for that. It also shows once again the validity of the statement about the F-4: "Proof that with enough power, even a barn door will fly"!

It came out in VHS and Beta, available from aviation specialty shops. Originally released in its full length and after a few years was re-released in a shortened version. I've kept my full length copy pristine over the years.

It's now available on DVD, here's the website: thresholdtheblueangelsexperience.com. It is also available through Amazon. I note that the seller has the same last name as the director, so maybe that's how they were able to obtain the rights after all these years. At Amazon, at one part of their description they say it's All Region, but at another list it as Region 1 only, so you might want to email them at customers@thresholdtheblueangelsexperience.com and ask. It is full screen (1.33 to 1), not widescreen, which is how the original tape was released. Keep in mind the DVD was made from the masters the tapes were made from, and in those days, letterboxing was far off in the future. Those who have seen it say the quality is outstanding given the age of the original, and unlike tape, this will maintain its quality over the years. I'll add to this post as soon as I get my copy, which I ordered within 2 minutes of finding it was available.

Again, I have no interest in the production, distribution or sale of this movie except a desire to spread the word about an outstanding film.
 

flateric

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I must agree, Speed&Angels was one of the greatest experience for me since Top Gun and IMAX Dream Of Flight and Fighter Pilot.
 

F-14D

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I've received my copy of Threshold, and as promised here's my thoughts on the DVD.

This is strictly a DVD of the movie ported over from tape. There are no special features, chapters, or what have you. It has not been "remastered", so the quality is not what you'd expect for a DVD made today. So, it's more like looking at a film or VHS tape than DVD, there is some dirt on the print, but it's minor. Still, given the source material, they did quite well. They probably didn't have a lot of money to work with, and they know it'll never be a big seller, but they did a good job, all things considered.

The movie itself is brilliantly shot, even if the script is a bit dated. The air to air and cockpit shots are great. For those who have never seen the Blues in the F-4, it's especially interesting because the Phantom represents a transition between the previous fighters- where they would fly a maneuver, go out and reposition and make another pass to do their next maneuver, the go out to build energy again, and the Superfighters that would follow . Also, none of the maneuvers required them to be in a slight descent to keep speed up as with earlier mounts (Thunderbirds had same issues prior to F-4). While the F-4 was more powerful than what came before and could do things previous aircraft couldn't (didn't need to go out and build up energy for every maneuver), it didn't have the seemingly effortless moves of what followed it. It was powerful, but you could see it was "muscling" through its maneuvers rather than floating through them like the A-4F and Hornet did. It could do the stuff we know today, but you could see that it was working at it. In some ways that's actually more impressive because you get a better feel for what's happening and how hard it really is.

The down the runway diamond takeoff shot early in the program really gives you an appreciation of this hulking brute and why it excited so much. There hadn't been anything like this before. For those who have only seen the Hornet, the six aircraft landing in a Delta together is noteworthy. This used to be a trademark of the Blues, but the Hornet is not that stable on touchdown, so it got dropped soon after they converted to the F/A-18. Also, the video is filled with sounds that are fading from the world, and growing numbers in the US have never heard or will never hear again, the sounds of multiple F-4s/J79s on the ramp and in the air.

In short, I can definitely recommend this production if you're a Blues Booster or Phantom Phan,. or if you just want to see how it was. That's fortunate, since it's likely the only one we're going to get and for how long is unsure.

A bittersweet note: After his tour with them, the leader of the Blues in this video went to Vietnam where he was one of the last pilots shot down in the war.
 

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I haven't read any mention of "Sky Fighters" (originally "Les Chevaliers du ciel" in French). I thought it whas a decent plot and pretty good Mirage 2000 footage.
 

F-14D

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AeroFranz said:
I haven't read any mention of "Sky Fighters" (originally "Les Chevaliers du ciel" in French). I thought it whas a decent plot and pretty good Mirage 2000 footage.
When I started this thread, I was only talking about Speed & Angels and Threshold, because these were two Outstanding videos, way above average, I wanted to spread the word about. Must admit, haven't heard of Sky Fighters.

Maybe you could share why this is such a fantastic video.
 

AeroFranz

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F-14D said:
When I started this thread, I was only talking about Speed & Angels and Threshold, because these were two Outstanding videos, way above average, I wanted to spread the word about. Must admit, haven't heard of Sky Fighters.
Maybe you could share why this is such a fantastic video.

You're right, I guess I got excited about finding out about a good aviation movie for a change. There are way too few and far between.

you can find more details about Sky Fighters at imdb.com http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0421974/, but in short,
the good thing about this movie is the extensive use of real airplanes (versus CGI), resulting in some of the best air-to-air footage I have ever seen. No inverted flight on top of a "MiG-28" while pulling negative g's or other Hollywood BS, just unadultered high performance planes caught up close.
Of course there is the unavoidable romance/fling story and a storyline involving a terrorist plot that is a little bit of a stretch, but it does better than the vast majority of the Hollywood movies in that regard, while still being entertaining. I found it at video stores in the US, so while I wouldn't recommend the outright purchase (although I eventually bought it), it's definitely worth renting.

I have yet to see Speed Angels, although from what people here are saying I have every reason to believe it will be great, so i cannot compare the two. I can tell you that compared to what aviation buffs have had to endure in order to see airplanes in a movie (Stealth, Iron Eagle 1-2-3, Fly Boys, Pearl Harbour, etc..), Sky Fighters is not bad at all.
 

F-14D

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AeroFranz said:
F-14D said:
When I started this thread, I was only talking about Speed & Angels and Threshold, because these were two Outstanding videos, way above average, I wanted to spread the word about. Must admit, haven't heard of Sky Fighters.
Maybe you could share why this is such a fantastic video.

You're right, I guess I got excited about finding out about a good aviation movie for a change. There are way too few and far between.

you can find more details about Sky Fighters at imdb.com http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0421974/, but in short,
the good thing about this movie is the extensive use of real airplanes (versus CGI), resulting in some of the best air-to-air footage I have ever seen. No inverted flight on top of a "MiG-28" while pulling negative g's or other Hollywood BS, just unadultered high performance planes caught up close.
Of course there is the unavoidable romance/fling story and a storyline involving a terrorist plot that is a little bit of a stretch, but it does better than the vast majority of the Hollywood movies in that regard, while still being entertaining. I found it at video stores in the US, so while I wouldn't recommend the outright purchase (although I eventually bought it), it's definitely worth renting.

I have yet to see Speed Angels, although from what people here are saying I have every reason to believe it will be great, so i cannot compare the two. I can tell you that compared to what aviation buffs have had to endure in order to see airplanes in a movie (Stealth, Iron Eagle 1-2-3, Fly Boys, Pearl Harbour, etc..), Sky Fighters is not bad at all.

One of the thing about Speed & Angels and Threshold is that they are documentaries first, meant to entertain as well as inform as opposed to movies designed to entertain first, with accuracy a secondary consideration.
 

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