By Fred “Crash” Blechman
On December 2, at the 64,000-square-foot Syncro Aviation hangar at Van Nuys Airport, a mighty roar was heard at about 9:30 p.m. No, it wasn’t a large Gulfstream IV powering up. It was the roar of applause and approval from 1,300 attendees, at the conclusion of the movie “One Six Right,” at its national tour finale.
This high definition film was first shown 18 months ago, has been seen by thousands of people in digital movie theaters around the country and has sold more than 40,000 copies on DVD. But on this night, the movie was shown on the largest screen of all; Sony created a custom SXRD 4K high definition 5.1 digital surround sound movie theater in the hangar. Thirteen hundred seats were provided for viewing the huge screen.
The hangar was transformed into an aviation museum, displaying 16 of the actual aircraft shown in the film. These included two P-51s, a DC-3, a Piper Cub, a Fleet biplane, a Staggerwing Beech, two Pitts biplanes, F-5 and T-38 jets, an AT-6, an A-26, a B-25, a Cirrus VK-30 and a Cessna 172.
Also on display were the actual high-definition cameras used to make the film and the helicopter and its gyroscopically stabilized Gyron camera system that shot the aerial sequences. Two hundred sixty movie lights provided dramatic museum-style lighting from above.
Advance tickets were sold out several days prior to the event. Generous sponsorship from Sony, Apple, Syncro Aviation and Los Angeles World Airports made this special night possible. Western Jet Aviation donated refreshments (popcorn, candy and soft drinks), and Richard Hodkinson, Jet Fleet International, and Dave Stefko also generously supported the event.
The large hangar easily accommodated the crowd. Guests admired the actual planes flown in the movie and reunited with other aviation enthusiasts.
This event concluded the 12-city high definition theatrical tour of “One Six Right,” which began at the site of the world’s largest annual aviation gathering, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Oshkosh AirVenture 2006, last July, where many thousands viewed the movie. The tour included stops in Seattle; San Francisco; Orlando; Atlanta; Dallas; Chicago; and Washington D.C., for its presentation to members of Congress.
While earning his private pilot license at Van Nuys Airport, Brian J. Terwilliger learned what general aviation is all about, how it’s misunderstood, and that many airports in this country are being closed down at the rate of about one every week. He decided to bring those problems to light. At its final tour stop, Barry Schiff, famed pilot and writer, introduced Terwilliger, the film’s producer and director. Schiff appears in the film’s opening sequence. His introduction included a story about Schiff’s initial contact with Terwilliger.
“When he contacted me about five or six years ago, he said he was a filmmaker,” Schiff related. “He asked me if I’d make a few comments and share some thoughts about Van Nuys Airport, for a documentary film he was producing. As it turned out, Terwilliger was 24 years old—and looked 20!”
Schiff said Terwilliger was a man on a mission.
“He infected everyone with his passion, his dedication and his tenacity,” Schiff said. “Those from Hollywood think Terwilliger is a film producer, who happens to be a pilot. Those of us in aviation have thought of him as a pilot, who just happens to have made a film. In reality, he’s both.”
After a loud and long applause, Terwilliger took the podium.
“This is very, very exciting,” he said. “It’s a dream come true to have this event in this hangar—to have the final screening of this nationwide tour at the airport where it all started.”
Terwilliger pointed out that no narrator was used in the film; interviewees told stories about why they loved flying, and they related their personal histories at the airport. In the audience were many of the 85 aviators interviewed for the 120 hours of digital footage, later edited down to 73 minutes for the final cut.
After Terwilliger’s remarks, the film was showcased. The original music, in surround sound, blended perfectly with the many flying scenes—including some spectacular close-up aerobatics—adding to the film’s impact. The audience applauded enthusiastically as the long list of credits rolled.
Terwilliger returned to the stage to present Tom Poberezny, president of the Experimental Aircraft Association, with a check for $15,395. The amount, representing $5 for each “One Six Right” DVD sold at AirVenture 2006, was a contribution to EAA’s Young Eagles program, which has introduced more than a million youngsters to aviation through general aviation flights.
Terwilliger introduced people who were key to the film’s production, and they answered questions from the audience. Much of the long, five-year effort was described, detailing how the film expanded well beyond the original plan for a short documentary about the history of Van Nuys Airport.
Terwilliger gave credit to his major investors and supporters, including Clay Lacy, Si Robin, Jim Dunn, Barbara Cesar, Howard Keck, his parents and his uncle. He thanked the San Fernando Chapter of the Ninety-Nines for their help that evening.
Lacy, a former race pilot and owner of jet facilities in Van Nuys and Seattle, expressed his pleasure in Terwilliger’s accomplishment.
“He’s a very nice, honorable, young man,” he said. “I predict really good things for him. We’ll see his name on a big production in Hollywood in the next 15 years. He’s fabulous.”
Phil Aune wrote the first contribution check when initially approached by Terwilliger more than five years ago. Now retired, he spoke of his 47 years as tower controller at Van Nuys Airport.
“I enjoyed working on the film and being in it, and seeing all my friends,” he said.
Ernie Bankey, retired Air Force colonel and WWII triple ace, was in the movie, and said Terwilliger “has touched something really right.”
“All of us who fly recognize that,” he said.
Anne Marie Radel, a Ninety-Nines member and airplane owner, volunteered at the event, near the B-25 Heavenly Body.
“I thought the movie was magnificent, and gave everyone a sense of the joy of flight,” Radel said.
Terwilliger hasn’t stopped with “One Six Right.” A companion DVD, “One Six Left,” has more than 45 minutes of extra footage, featuring “The Making of One Six Right.” Also included is the original “Into the Clouds” trailer, featuring Enya’s song, “Only Time.” Additional footage includes a montage of the film’s most beautiful shots, two new aerobatic sequences and more.
In addition, a 14-month 2007 calendar, which opens to 12 inches by 23 inches, has 14 shots from the movie on heavy, glossy stock. With quotes from the film and a centerfold with the sheet music for the original main theme, the film’s magic can hang on your wall all year long. Both the companion DVD and calendar are priced at $12.95.
To top it all off, you can go to www.onesixright.com and enter a sweepstakes (no purchase necessary) until Jan. 31, 2007. The many prizes include a gift certificate providing the winner with all-expense-paid training for a private pilot license or the Grand Prize that includes flights in many of the planes featured in the film.
“One Six Right” had its world television premiere on Discovery HD Theater on Christmas Day, and the DVD is now available internationally in the UK, Australia, Netherlands, Germany and South Africa.
For more information, or to order the calendars or DVDs, visit [http://www.onesixright.com].