GA at the movies

October 26, 2009

Aerobatic champions, record-setters, celebrity pilots, legends, and grandchildren of legends: Their inspiring stories have been captured on film in A Pilot’s Story and Amelia. Join AOPA President Craig Fuller on Friday, Nov. 6, at AOPA Aviation Summit for a talk with those who have helped make the movies happen.

See the true stories of pilots’ love of flying played out on the big screen at "GA at the Movies," a luncheon celebrating the outstanding stories of pilots and aviation enthusiasts. The luncheon will feature scenes from each movie and interviews with people involved in the two films.

A Pilot’s Story , a feature-length documentary film that is in development, showcases pilots’ vivid accounts of their love affair with the sky. Through interviews, air-to-air footage, and footage of general aviation events, the film highlights pilots’ stories from the first spark of interest in aviation through a look at the future. Interview subjects include such well-known figures as Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the Space Shuttle; airshow stars Sean Tucker and Julie Clark; entertainer Craig Ferguson; King Schools founders John and Martha King; and bearers of the Wright and Lindbergh names.

Director Will Hawkins and Producer Rico Sharqawi will be on stage to discuss the film and how they are striving to create a narrative that captures all the excitement, drama, and camaraderie of being a pilot. The two met during flight training and now run the production company Wilco Films and co-own a 1978 Piper Arrow III.

Fox Searchlight’s Amelia looks at the life of legendary pilot Amelia Earhart, who disappeared while attempting to complete a flight around the world. Amelia is directed by Mira Nair and stars Hilary Swank as Earhart, Richard Gere as George Putnam, and Ewan McGregor as Gene Vidal.

The luncheon will feature an interview with Susan Butler, author of one of the two books on which Amelia was based, and Jay McClure and Joe Shepherd, pilots who flew several sequences for the film in Shepherd’s Lockheed 12A Electra Junior.

Aviation has been in Butler’s family since the 1930s, when her grandmother and mother fell in love with flying. Butler’s mother was a pilot and a member of The Ninety-Nines, the women’s flying organization which Amelia Earhart helped start. Butler’s book East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart was a bestseller. Joe Shepherd and Jay McClure, both owners of Lockheed 12s, acted as pilot and copilot for some flying scenes in the movie; Shepherd’s aircraft substituted for Earhart’s Lockheed 10.

The event will also highlight the stories of aviation figures who aren’t on the big screen. Fuller will present the Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual and Joseph B. “DOC” Hartranft, Jr. awards for unselfish devotion to GA and significant contributions to the advancement of GA, respectively.

Tickets to the luncheon are $40. Tickets will be available on site, but in limited quantities, so sign up now to reserve your seat. Summit takes place Nov. 5 through 7 in Tampa, Fla., and expands on the popular AOPA Expo. Register for Summit today!