Iron Eagle

Those of us who are old enough to remember smoking sections on airliners,  will also remember the aeronautical cheesefest, 80s action flic called "Iron Eagle".  The story of a young hot dog Cessna driver, and leader of the famed “Eagles Flying Club” Doug Masters, who, with the help of his trusty kneeboard cassette player, the music of Queen, and famed fighter ace, Col. Charles Chappy Sinclair, managed to steal two F-16 fighters from the USAF inventory, and singlehandedly launch a rescue mission to bring Doug's father home.
 
Although loaded with aeronautical inaccuracies and impossibilities like any of its Hollywood cinematic kind, the film did contain some true aeronautical gems worthy of mention.  
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The famed race through Snake Canyon between Doug in his Cessna Aerobat and his arch rival “ Knotcher”  was performed by none other than film pilot and air show performer Art Scholl.  
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Art’s masterful stick and rudder skills are plainly evident as the wrestles the four cylinders of fury against Knotcher on his bike.  The Cessna won the race, despite the “loosened oil cap” and full flaps on the straightaway.   None the less, any pilot can tell you that any movie in which Art flew, makes for an automatic entry in any worthy aviation film library.  
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Sadly Art Scholl was killed during the filming of Top Gun, while trying to capture the inverted flat spin visual sequence.  It is believed that the addition of cameras to his aircraft to capture the scene caused a shift in the Pitts CofG, thus making spin recovery impossible.  
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Initially the United States Air Forces was fully behind backing the filming of Iron Eagle, that is until they realized the story included the theft of two of their jets…and that concluded any further involvement of the USAF.  Thankfully the Israeli Air Force jumped on board, providing F-16s, as well as F-21/C-2 Kfir fighter aircraft to be used in the filming of the movie.
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One most interesting fact known to only a few, is the Israeli fighters used during filming sequences, happened to be loaded with live ordnance...  and so, one day during filming, an Israeli ground controller became aware of an escalating situation necessitating a rapid response to terrorist activity to the North.  Seeing two armed fighters already airborne with the required load out, the controller jumped on the radio, and ordered the Israeli fighters to engage the terrorists.  The fighters complied, and immediately broke away from the filming aircraft as they were vectored north.
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As the jets were closing in on their target, it was realized that although painted in Israeli Air Force colors and camouflage, the fighters were still clearly emblazoned with the markings and insignias of the United States Air Force.
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Wanting to avoid what was sure to become an international incident, the aircraft were quickly ordered to turn around, and brought back home.  The film was eventually released, the international incident was avoided,  and Knotcher never bothered Doug Masters again...
 
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8 comments


  • Ryan

    My dad was an ATC from 69-89. I grew up with Iron Eagle and Top Gun and being around the Navy daily. Was so blessed and miss it like crazy!


  • Tom Burkhalter

    Silly teen movie, sure, but the scene where Chappie tells Doug about flying in Vietnam, man, that one scene was POWERFUL. “Because they’re DEAD. ALL of them.” Shivers thinking about it


  • Jay

    hahha i watched this movie on tape over and over and over. It is so silly 😜 , a longhaired mil brat teen has a secret friendship with a black fighter pilot colonel and he learns to fly!


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