Pilots

Brian J. Terwilliger

November 1, 2006

Van Nuys Airport might be the centerpiece of Brian J. Terwilliger's remarkable general aviation film One Six Right: The Romance of Flying, but Van Nuys was hundreds of miles to the southwest from where the idea for the film was born.

Sitting at Colorado's Centennial Airport, Terwilliger was telling a fellow pilot about his home field when the idea started to grow in his head. "Just talking with the guy there was some revelation that 'wow there's even more to it than my own fascination,'" he says. "It's not just my home airport; it happens to be fascinating and very historic, and it's the busiest general aviation airport in the world."

Terwilliger moved to Southern California from his native Connecticut when he was 16. While he was studying film in college, he started in the movie industry working a wide variety of jobs on various movie projects. At about the same time, his interest in flying was reinvigorated after visiting a friend back East. "Here's my best friend flying a 172 down the Hudson River corridor," Terwilliger says. "I'm looking over at my buddy, and he's flying a real airplane!"

That ride tipped the scales for him and when Terwilliger got home he found an ad for flight lessons at Van Nuys. Less than a year after the flight with his friend, Terwilliger had his private pilot certificate.

After the conversation at Centennial, Terwilliger planned to start on a film about Van Nuys right away on a shoestring budget. But after talking the documentary idea over, he thought it would be best to secure some financing and do the movie right, with the highest possible quality. The result is an incredible theater experience in high definition.

Terwilliger spent more than a year editing some 120 hours of high-definition footage including interviews and stunning aerial sequences. "The airplanes are the stars of the movie; the airplanes tell the story," he says. Terwilliger's prized possession from the filming, however, is a stool on which every interview took place and which was signed by all the participants, including aviation greats Bob Hoover, Barry Schiff, and AOPA President Phil Boyer.

Yet, the very thing that has thrust Terwilliger into the world of general aviation also has kept him so busy that his time at the controls has been lacking. "Over the last five years of making this movie, I've done little flying," he says. "Now I'd just like to get up there to fly and introduce people to flying." It's something Terwilliger can do in the air, and thanks to One Six Right, on the ground as well.


Visitors to AOPA Expo in Palm Springs can see One Six Right: The Romance of Flying on November 9 following the Welcome Reception.