Living in the Age of Airplanes, a documentary described as “a love letter to airplanes and what they mean to us,” premiered April 8 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
The 47-minute film, directed by Brian J. Terwilliger, presents a tapestry of aerial footage and nature photography to illustrate how aviation has connected the world. Actor and pilot Harrison Ford provides the narration. The film presents its narrative in five discrete chapters, showing images from the Antarctica, Amsterdam, the Maldive Islands, Alaska, San Francisco, and many more.
Terwilliger also directed One Six Right, which received broad acclaim in the aviation community for its true-to-life depiction of general aviation.
To capture the fluidity of global air traffic for Living in the Age of Airplanes, Terwilliger traveled to seven continents and devoted six years to production, said National Geographic Studios President Brooke Runnette. National Geographic Studios is distributing the film, which will be shown in giant screen, digital, IMAX, and museum cinemas worldwide.
“You’ll feel what he feels,” Runnette said. “He loves airplanes.” She said the documentary underscores what airplanes mean to us, “and we don’t even see how much they have changed our lives.”
“I can’t believe I’m done with this film,” Terwilliger joked at the premiere. As an eighth-grade student, Terwilliger watched the film To Fly in the Air and Space large screen theater. “This museum has a special place in my heart,” he said. It is an “amazing, incredible feeling” to know that Living in the Age of Airplanes will be shown at the same venue three times a day for the next year, he said.
“There’s a story to tell, a message to share, kids you want to inspire,” Terwilliger said. He thanked National Geographic Studios for making it possible to share the film’s message. Of Ford’s participation in the project, Terwilliger said, “He loved the story, he identified with it, and he took it to a place I was not expecting.”
In press materials for the film, Terwilliger said he hopes it restores a sense of wonder for aviation during an era in which many people take air travel for granted. “Flying has become more accessible to more people than any time in history,” he said. “It’s become such a commonplace experience that it doesn’t seem to kindle people’s interest anymore…My hope with this film is that it inspires audiences to see aviation with a new sense of appreciation and awe.”
Living in the Age of Airplanes will be screened May 15 at the AOPA Salinas Fly-In Friday night Barnstormers Party, as well as on June 5 at the AOPA Homecoming Fly-In Friday Night Barnstormers Party. For other showings, see the complete list on the website.