Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Premieres Straight Up! Helicopters in Action

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum will take audiences out for a spin of a different sort with the new large format film Straight Up! Helicopters in Action.

The 42-minute production distributed by SK Films Inc. premieres in Washington on September 18 in the National Air and Space Museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX® Theater.

Narrated by actor Martin Sheen, Straight Up! celebrates the critical, yet often-unheralded, role helicopters play in a turbulent world.

Sheen’s narration guides the audience through a series of heart-pounding missions, each one requiring the unique maneuvering and lifting abilities that make the helicopter an essential tool.

Among the film’s sequences: a U.S. Marine Corps reconnaissance mission; an air-sea U.S. Coast Guard rescue; relocation of endangered black rhinos in South Africa; U.N delivery of humanitarian aid in war-torn Sierra Leone; an air-sea drug interdiction; a dangerous high-tension power line repair; and an alpine rescue and medevac sequence by Rega, the Swiss national air rescue organization, following an avalanche.

As shown in the film, helicopters are not only capable of rapidly responding to emergencies but in some cases make the difference between life and death.

Museum Director Gen. J. R. “Jack” Dailey, a decorated military pilot who has flown both airplanes and helicopters, predicts Straight Up! will give audiences a greater appreciation of the unique nature of vertical flight as they travel along with skilled helicopter crews on the film’s series of challenging adventures.

According to Gen. Dailey, “When it comes to capturing the experiences of flight, nothing compares to films like this one. Not only are we educating audiences about what helicopters can do, we’re inspiring the flyers of tomorrow by showing them the skill and dedication involved in these missions.”

Straight Up! is the National Air and Space Museum’s ninth large format film presentation. In addition to showing at the Lockheed Martin IMAX® Theater, it will have a featured run in the theater of the museum’s new companion facility in Northern Virginia—the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center—opening at Washington Dulles International Airport in December 2003. The Udvar-Hazy Center will be home to the museum’s extensive vertical flight collection.

Straight Up!director and cinematographer David Douglas (Survival Island, Rolling Stones at the Max and Academy Award®-nominated Fires of Kuwait,) has spared no angle to provide the stunning visuals. Straight Up! was filmed over 18 months on three continents: North America, Europe and Africa

The film was produced by Jonathan Barker and Diane Roberts. Patricia Rice Woodside served as executive producer along with Barker. SK Films Inc., which produced the film for the museum, will handle distribution to IMAX® and other large screen theaters worldwide.

Sponsors are EADS N.V./Eurocopter, Agusta Aerospace Corporation, Bell Helicopter Textron, The Boeing Company, Sikorsky Aircraft, Rolls-Royce North America, the U.S. Marine Corps, Groen Brothers Aviation, PPL Corporation, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U. S. Customs Service. Additional financing was provided from a group of helicopter operators let by the Helicopter Association International.

The National Air and Space Museum, located at 6th and Independence Avenue, S.W., is open every day but December 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission to the museum is free.