For a movie that is almost 50 years old, it's hard to dig up news on it. However, some of the most interesting stories I hear are from people who were at Edwards during the filming of TTU or saw it in the theater as a kid. This is where I want to share those stories!
If you remember TTU at Edwards or the movie theater, drop me an email with the details and we'll put it on the site.
Esther, better known as Lu, remembers...
Gene M. Remembers...
I participated as an extra in the making of "Toward the Unknown", and I think I actually appeared for a second or two in a couple scenes - the one where Charles McGraw and Lloyd Nolan are talking behind the tailpipe of the F-94C inside the hangar, and the scene in dress blues where we were all lined up in formation on the flightline. Some of the guys in my squadron went to the premier at the Lancaster drive-in movie theatre, and came back and told me to go see the flick, since I was in it; otherwise, I wouldn't have even known about it.
The main reason for writing this is to relate a tidbit that I did not notice in the various "TTU Sightings" info:
The making of the movie was marred by the loss of the XB-51 at El Paso International Airport (shared runway with Biggs Air Force Base), Texas.
Our B-45 had been equipped with one of the big Warner Bros. cameras in the tail gunner position, in order to take airborne shots. It worked pretty well, but the movie crew wanted to get some background clouds in the picture in order to show the relative speed of the XB-51. At Edwards, the sky is clear nearly all the time. So, the Air Force decided to dispatch the XB-51 and the B-45 with the camera in the tail gunner position to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where the clouds are much more prevalent. The two aircraft flew to El Paso, where they were to remain over night (RON) at Biggs Air Force Base. The two aircraft were serviced, and the B-45 took off, circled around and was awaiting the take-off of the XB-51. As it then happened, the XB-51 taxied for take-off, but did not clear the runway. It came close, but overran the runway and ran into a railroad which was at the end of the 10,000 ft runway. Later calculations indicated that the aircraft, with full fuel load for the long flight to Florida, should have been airborne in about 11,000 ft. The aircraft exploded upon crashing into the railroad, and the fire caused the eventual death of all three crewmen aboard. I knew Staff Sgt Savage, and was a close friend of the crew chief who was aboard the B-45. The B-45 crew chief refuelled the XB-51, so felt some responsibility for its heavy take-off weight. However, the XB-51 was basically an old hangar queen at that time, and there weren't any flight engineers around to help with flight profiles. In fact, the aircraft was maintained out of Sgt Savage's toolbox.
The crash of the XB-51 caused the movie-makers to change some of their plans, but since most of the movie was "in the can" by this time, the movie release was not delayed, so far as I know. My recollection is that Warner Bros. left in a fair amount of the takes in which Sgt. Savage appeared. It has been 25 or 30 years since I have seen the movie on TV, so I don't remember clearly."