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Eagles land in Hollywood

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Larry Schneck
  • U.S. Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office
Through the clouds above a dry, remote airfield in Southern California, Col. Tom Schiess and Lt. Col. Matt Andrews punched holes in the sky and maneuvered their F-15 Eagles into position for landing.

A catastrophic attack on the United States had just taken place and the U.S. Air Force now filled the sky with lethal air power. The impressive flexing of muscle is breathtaking to view from the ground, and on the screen. This is not a military mission to secure the nation's air space, but rather a military mission to support the Fox television series "24."

The aircraft and Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., as well as Airmen and equipment from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., will be appearing as background extras and set dressing for an upcoming episode of the Emmy award-winning series.

Michael Klick, a producer from "24," worked closely with the Air Force Public Affairs Entertainment Liaison Office in Los Angeles to position air power in scenes filmed on location at the Mojave, Calif., airport. Mr. Klick felt the sixth season of the popular show needed the aircraft to create the TV visuals of a nation at war against terrorism. The entertainment liaison office reviewed the request, got approval from the Pentagon, then located available aircraft, personnel and equipment needed to make TV magic.

The tradition of Hollywood working with the Air Force dates from the early years of American filmmaking. The first "Best Picture" Oscar was given to a silent film about U.S. Army Air Force pilots heading to fight the central powers in World War I. The motion picture, titled "Wings," launched this on-going relationship between the film industry and America's military.

The Air Force takes this cooperation seriously. Military leaders realize the value of enhancing realism in scenes on the big and small screens. By using actual fighter aircraft and Airmen, the production company gets added storytelling power and enhanced realism, something that cannot be easily replicated by today's digital technology or set designers.

In exchange for appearing in TV and motion pictures, Air Force people and equipment are displayed for the public, many of whom only get their impressions of the military through the media, including movies and TV shows.

Twentieth Century Fox Television showed its support for the military, as well, by improving morale and welfare of Airmen at Edwards AFB and Kingsley Field. Fox donated $1,000 to morale, welfare, and recreation funds at both instillations.

"The money will be used to benefit the base during a function to say thank you to the troops for a job well done," said Colonel Schiess.

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