Fighter Pilot Operation Red Flag Roars into Chicago
By Todd McClamroch in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 25, 2007 8:22PM
Chicagoist enjoys getting inverted so when the opportunity came about to check out an advance screening of the award-winning IMAX Film, Fighter Pilot Operation Red Flag, that debuts in Chicago this Friday, we jumped on it. The movie follows Captain John "Otter Stratton", pilot of a U.S. Air Force F-15, through his experience at the Red Flag Training program at Nellis Air Force Base outside of Las Vegas. Red Flag is a two-week, realistic combat training exercise that involves the best pilots from our Air Force and allied air forces like Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The goal of Red Flag is to maximize combat readiness, capability, and survivability of participating units through realistic training.
The film takes full advantage of the large screen format of the IMAX theater. Director Stephen Low explains how this is different from traditional aviation films, “So many films on fighter aircraft essentially fake the interaction between the planes using a lot of quick cutting, simulated cockpit photography, and special effects. Working with the Air Force made it possible for us to shoot actual dog-fighting for the first time between a dozen aircraft at once. Altogether we were working with more than one hundred aircraft of all types. This is the closet an audience will ever get to flying in the middle of a massive air combat mission."
Low is exactly right, as the film made us feel like we were right in the heart of all the action. We flew along during simulated close contact air-to-air combat missions, simulated bombing runs, humanitarian food drops, and rescue missions.
Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, winner of the Large Format Cinema Association 2005 "Best of Festival", opens in Chicago at the Navy Pier Imax on Friday. The IMAX Theater at Navy Pier is "Chicago's largest flat movie screen-a soaring six-story, 60 x 80-foot screen designed to enhance both 2D and 3D films."