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Filmmakers Appeal to New Generation of Fliers

Filmmakers Rico Sharqawi and Will Hawkins are working together on a film about learning to be a pilot, in which they aim to get past stereotypes that piloting is only for daredevils, technicians, or the wealthy. "If you have a passion for flight, you can do it, even if you're missing an arm or a leg," says Sharqawi, who serves as producer for "A Pilot's Story," while Hawkins—who met Sharqawi at flight school in Watsonville, Calif.—is director."We shared ownership of a small airplane, a Piper Aero four-seater, and we thought, why not produce a film documenting the process a student goes through to obtain their pilot's license?" says Sharqawi. "Let's talk to people who have done it, all kinds, from celebrities, to sport flyers and air show performers. They must have had a common thread between them, a kindred spirit." Most films about flight have been oriented more toward people who are already pilots rather than the non-flying public, says Sharqawi, which "helps to breed the misconceptions that flying is only for the rich." Hawkins also points out that, far from the stereotype that flying is very dangerous, it is actually safer than driving a car: "One time when I was with my instructor, as an exercise we turned the plane's engine off over the Santa Cruz beachfront, and glided all the way back to the Watsonville Airport." The film will include interviews with noted pilots, including air show performers Patty Wagstaff and Julie Clark, flight instructor Max Trescott, Red Bull helicopter pilot Chuck Aaron, Thunderbird pilot Samantha Weeks, and Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson. It will also spotlight two high schools that have aviation specialties. Sharqawi says that "flying teaches young people confidence and self-esteem and helps keep them out of gangs."

April 15, 2009

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