Last weekend I flew from Santa Maria, CA to Prescott, AZ for the final AOPA Regional fly-in of 2016. Through my service club, the Mooney Ambassadors, I am able to display an airplane, and have a booth with children’s activities etc. There were over 6000 attendees at the event and I had the opportunity to meet pilots, wanna be pilots, and families of each. One of the folks standing by my airplane was Gillian Blumer. I asked if she would like to come inside my Mooney and we had a nice chat.
Gillian, from Corvalis Oregon, is a freshman at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She developed the passion for flight in a 7th grade science class when they had a mechanics of flight lecture. Gillian is working on her pilot’s license, and she has a passion for aeronautical engineering. If all goes according to plan, she will graduate with an aeronautical engineering degree with a minor in computer science.
When I asked her what she wants to do with her engineering degree, I was completely impressed with her answer. “I want to incorporate aviation into society. A lot of people see airplanes as transportation for long distances or goods and materials. But I believe with future technology, we can create airplanes for every day life, that can get us from point A to point B in wonderful fun. These airplanes have to fit key aspects: be relatively small [size of car] and able to take off in short fields or through vertical lift. Currently vertical lift airplanes are not efficient because the propulsion it takes is inefficient. I would like to work on making vertical lift planes more efficient. I feel that we could do a lot to advance aviation if we re-designed aircraft engines. I have applied for the Human-Powered Project on campus, which seeks to design a human powered aircraft,” she says.
Her comments about bringing the fun and wonder back to aviation made me think about my friend Brian Terwilliger and his movie Living in the Age of Airplanes. Following its premiere at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, the film continued its successful run on giant screen, digital, IMAX® and museum cinemas worldwide in 2015 and 2016.
I was lucky enough to see a press screening in Oshkosh and it is set for a Blu-Ray/DVD release October 25th. The movie is simply stunning. As many of you know Brian was the filmmaker who brought us the aviation classic, One Six Right about historic Van Nuys airport.
To dramatize the remarkably fluid global traffic enabled by contemporary air travel, Terwilliger traveled with his crew to 95 locations in 18 countries searching for some of the most exotic spots on earth. Living in the Age of Airplanes is directed by Brian J. Terwilliger (One Six Right) and produced by Terwilliger and Bryan H. Carroll. Director of Photography is Andrew Waruszewski. Music is by James Horner (Avatar, Titanic) and the Editor is Brad Besser.
“Since we were all born into a world with airplanes, it’s hard to imagine that jet travel itself is only 60 years old, just a tick on the timeline of human history,” said Brian. “But our perception of crossing continents and oceans at 500 mph has turned from fascination to frustration. I want to reignite people’s wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world.”
Terwilliger recruited Harrison Ford, one of the world’s biggest movie stars and an expert pilot, to narrate Living in the Age of Airplanes. “It was important to me that the narrator truly owned the story and had a passion for the subject,” says Terwilliger. “I didn’t want to have a celebrity simply ‘lend’ their voice, because this project is very personal to me, and the narrator plays such an important role. With a documentary like this, there are the visuals, the music and the narrator—and that’s it. I wanted the delivery to come from someone with passion. Harrison was very committed to telling the story and getting it right.”
To create the music for Living in the Age of Airplanes Terwilliger collaborated with another private pilot and kindred spirit, composer James Horner, who scored such Hollywood blockbusters as Avatar, Titanic, and Braveheart. Take a listen to the beautiful SCORE .
Terwilliger hopes Living in the Age of the Airplanes restores a sense of wonder for aviation during an era when many people take air travel for granted. “Flying has become more accessible to more people than at any time in history,” he says. “It’s no longer just for the elite as it was 60 years ago.” But now that mankind has realized its dream of flying after 200,000 years of earthbound evolution, air travel has lost some of its luster. “It’s become such a commonplace experience that it doesn’t seem to kindle people’s interest anymore,” Terwilliger says. “You have a lot of disgruntled passengers where their focus is on the inconvenience and the delays. My hope with this film is that it inspires audiences to see aviation with a new sense of appreciation and awe. If somebody sees Living in the Age of Airplanes and comes away thinking ‘I’ll never think about flying the same way again,’ then it worked.”
For those who would like to check out the trailers for Living in the Age of Airplanes or perhaps pre-order a DVD/Blu-Ray for holiday gift giving, follow this link:
We all need to continue to think outside the box. Young people like Gillian will push aviation forward through design and engineering. Creative visionaries like Brian Terwilliger will illustrate the awesome wonder of our world and the ability to live life in three dimensions. What will be your contribution?