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New IMAX film a first for the Air Force

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 24, 2004) -- If you have never been part of a Red Flag exercise, you can at least watch the movie.

The IMAX film "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag" premiers Dec. 2 at the Smithsonian Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center, near here. The movie is the first large format film to showcase the U.S. Air Force. The film is directed by veteran film maker Stephen Low.

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In the new movie, viewers follow Capt. John Stratton, an F-15 Eagle fighter pilot, as he participates in a two-week long Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

A typical exercise pits “friendly” blue forces against “hostile” red forces in mock combat situations. Blue forces are made up of units from the U.S Air Force and its sister services as well as units from American allies. Red forces are composed of aircrews from Red Flag's adversary tactics division, who fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

"Fighter Pilot" covers more than just the flying part of a Red Flag. The film also covers those people who put aircraft in the air and those who support the Air Force mission: engine mechanics, crew chiefs, firefighters, and even those who get up early to do the morning "FOD walk."

IMAX films rival the standard movie theater experience in both picture and sound quality. The film itself is about 10 times larger than what is used in a regular movie theater. The extra size means more picture information, which translates to a larger, clearer image on the screen. IMAX movie screens can be up to eight stories tall.

Sound quality at an IMAX theater is unsurpassed. The setup includes 44 speakers grouped into six clusters behind the screen and at the rear of the theater. The setup allows viewers to hear with absolute clarity everything from the roar of a jet engine to the sound of a pin dropping.

Beginning Dec. 4, the film will be shown at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

The film opens to the general public Dec. 11. Show locations, information about the film, and a five-minute preview are all available online at

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