Imax film director Mr. Stephen Low is like a kid when it comes to his excitement for complex toys. This adventurous director has taken his passions to the giant screen and is set for this week’s launch of his latest Imax 3D film, Legends of Flight, a large-format film chronicling man’s fixation with flying machines. A veteran director of the large format and from a pioneering family of filmmakers, Mr. Low makes sure that his toys are the biggest, the fastest, or even go the deepest.
In production for over four years, Legends of Flight is set to take off on June 8 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. The film will bring viewers face to face with the most high-tech commercial aircraft in a dramatic tale of flight told through the development of US aircraft manufacturer Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.
Mr. Low is no stranger challenges. In his career, Mr. Low has hitched large-format cameras onto high-speed Indy cars for his film Super Speedway, while he has captured vintage steam-locomotives from the air for his forthcoming film Rocky Mountain Express. He even ventured to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean with Russian submersibles to the site of the wreckage of the RMS Titanic for his film Titanica well before Hollywood director James Cameron filmed his epic Oscar-winning flick about the ill-fated luxury cruise liner.
Directing his cameras skywards this week, Mr. Low will see the launch of Legends of Flight, a film that documents the dramatic story of the lead-up to last year’s inaugural flight of Boeing’s newest aircraft – the high-tech, innovative light-weight, composite-designed 787 Dreamliner.
“We wanted to follow the development of the construction of the first aircraft,” said Mr. Low. “This story is told with the help of chief test pilot Mike Carriker, who has flown two-hundred types of airplanes.”
The film, produced by Pietro L. Serapiglia, The Stephen Low Company, and executive produced by K2 Communications, promises flights through breathtaking mountain passes on a variety of planes including a Stearman bi-plane and a Harrier Jump Jet, followed by the dramatic tale of last year’s maiden Dreamliner flight.
“This is not just the history of airliners and jetliners, but the development of a kind of aircraft, which encompasses all of the knowledge of aviation that proceeds it.”
Legends of Flight ties together the story of the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and its European competitor, the Airbus A380, in the context of lessons learned in the past one-hundred years of flight.
In the film, viewers witness test pilot Mike Carriker as he sits through the tense development process of the Dreamliner leading up to last year’s dramatic inaugural flight at Boeing’s sprawling home base here in Everett, Washington. It is here that the US-based firm did final assembly of the aircraft and its pioneering composite-based, lightweight material.
“This is the first large commercial carbon-fiber aircraft,” said Mr. Low, “It has long been known that this material is potentially better than aluminium, which is really overbuilding. Using carbon fiber ultimately means making an aircraft with less material, no corrosion, and a drier cabin.”
At Boeing’s giant construction hangar in Everett, Washington – where scenes of Mr. Low’s film was shot – the impression is that of an awe-inspiring endless science laboratory. Peering down from the uppermost viewing dock of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner assembly plant at Everett is the modern-day equivalent of a bird’s eye view of Egyptian laborers millennia ago building the great pyramids at Giza.
Like the ancient Egyptians in their time, the Boeing plant is today’s technological cutting edge. Countless workers – from designers to engineers – buzz around their cubicles surrounding in this grandiose aircraft assembly line.
Late last year – after a series of pesky delays – Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner finally took to flight with Mr. Carriker and his crew at the helm. Using a high percentage of composite materials, the Dreamliner was developed by an international team of aerospace companies led by Boeing at this high-security site.
The aircraft assembled here promises to use twenty percent less fuel than similarly-sized aircraft, carry 250-290 passengers up to 15,750 kilometers with a higher humidity environment and increased comfort. Legends of Flight is set to give viewers the rarely seen tale of the challenges, occasional setbacks, and exhilaration in the building and launch of a modern commercial aircraft.
“In the development of an aircraft, there are lots of hurdles and delays; you have got to be patient,” said Mr. Low of the arduous process of developing an aircraft.
“You’ve got to love airplanes and just going to Boeing is fun. It’s like the Vatican if you’re religious. Being friends of [the]chief test pilot of Boeing is exciting stuff, if you’re a guy like me.”
Montreal-based journalist and cultural navigator Andrew Princz is the editor of the travel site www.ontheglobe.com . He is involved in country awareness and tourism promotion projects globally. He has traveled to almost sixty countries around the globe seeking to communicate the stories of the diverse peoples and cultures that he comes across, from Nigeria to Ecuador and Kazakhstan to India.