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Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag

Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2006 Title Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag
Publisher Image Entertainment Published 2004
Format DVD Region 0 MSRP (USD) $19.99

First Look

I didn't know what to expect when I ordered this DVD from Amazon. This was an IMAX production that was supposed to take a look at a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB. I haven't seen a stinker produced for IMAX yet, so I gave it a go. Now let me preface my remarks by confessing that I've been to a few Red Flags in the mid-1980s with my squadron (though we were technically classified as 'targets' by both Red and Blue. This was going to have to be really good...

I wasn't disappointed. Sponsored by Boeing, this title follows an Eagle driver from Mountain Home AFB whose grandfather was an F4U pilot during WW2. Wanting to carry on the fighter pilot heritage, this pilot finds himself heading to his first Red Flag. When he arrives at Nellis, he sees aircraft from a variety of US military squadrons as well as Tornados from Germany, Vipers from Israel, Hornets from Canada, and more.

A pilot is most likely to be lost in combat within their first ten missions. The intent of Red Flag is to give that pilot those ten missions in an intense, but survivable environment. Our pilot in the movie launches into the first mission only to get his brains gunned by an aggressor, but he comes right back in a subsequent go to return the favor.

In addition to excellent views from the cockpit, the film has some beautiful air-to-air footage of other Red Flag participants. It also takes you aboard AWACS (those displays didn't look that cool when I took my last AWACS flight!) as well as aboard a KC-10 for air refueling, from ground-level for the vantage point of ingress routes (and falling flares), from the launch site of "smokey SAMs", and from the vantage point of a downed airman who had to avoid capture until rescue. As you might expect in a title that is designed to keep you engaged in the story, there was a little license taken with the pilots walking among some WW2 aircraft in an air museum (in Canada) between missions. They did get some nice footage of the infamous "petting zoo" at Nellis where crews could enjoy hands-on experiences with a variety of actual threat aircraft and combat vehicles.

The video is formatted in Widescreen 16x9 or Fullscreen 4x3. The photography in this movie is nothing less than spectacular and provides excellent footage of a wide variety of USAF aircraft in action. The audio is equally well done with the sound produced in your choice of Dolby 5.1 or DTS. I particularly liked the strafe runs with the sound of the Avenger cannons from the A-10 strikes. A second disc is provided Windows Media High Definition format for your computer. I hadn't noticed that when I viewed the first disc in 16x9 on my computer.

I really enjoyed this film and will definitely be watching it many more times to come. This is just the thing to get me to dig out those Tamiya 1/32 F-15E and F-16C projects.