An often forgotten flight test movie is finally coming to DVD May 10 – On the Threshold of Space. Released in 1956, it’s essentially a story based on John Paul Stapp & all the fun stuff he was involved with at Holloman AFB: rocket sleds & high altitude balloons. Rumor has it it will be pan & scan vs. the original widescreen – hope not. Learn more at ClassicFlix.com.
I love the old television game shows – Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life, What’s My Line, and The Name’s the Same. While they sometime make the rounds on DVD or late night on the Game Show Network, YouTube is a great source for these shows. I was happy to run into a YouTube channel last night full of You Bet Your Life shows. What’s even cooler about these shows is that they were on TV during the golden age of flight test. It’s not uncommon to find episodes with record breaking test pilots of the time.
This particular clip is not of a test pilot, but someone just as famous and important, Lt. Col. (and later Col.) John Paul Stapp. In this episode is from March 29, 1956. Lt. Col. Stapp gets grilled by Groucho about his “big run” at Holloman in 1954.
For the aviation movie buffs out there, A Gathering of Eagles is finally on DVD. I’ve seen the movie a number of times off of VHS and I think half the time scenes were cut or there was a million commercials. Odd to finally watch a movie that’s complete and looks great. Widescreen as well. I’m half way through the movie and aside from Mary Peach coming off whiny, it’s a good watch & authentic – real B-52s, real missiles.
Toward The Unknown is my favorite movie. Yeah, you probably know that already. It’s always interesting at work when you have a meeting icebreaker and you go around the room and say your favorite movie. While most folks mention some movie that came out last year that you never heard of, I mention my fav and have to append an elevator speech to it: “A 1956 movie about a rocket plane and test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base. William Holden’s in it.” The millennials go “oh” and the other folks go “ah” when they hear William Holden.
60 years ago this Fall, Toward The Unknown was released in theaters. 60 years later, I think it’s safe to say that folks haven’t forgotten about the movie. I can base that on all of the emails I’ve received over the years. Many remember watching it on the Late Late show, others looking for a copy.
For years, many folks tried to get TTU on DVD. Finally, around 5 years ago, WB released it. Soon after that, TCM started showing it, and in HD. To this day, I record it each time it’s on – and even have a locked, saved copy on our DVR at all times. Watching it in HD, I’m always watching the background for little details like names on lockers and models on desks.
Edwards AFB has been having fun with the anniversary too, showing behind-the-scenes photos on social media – even stuff I haven’t seen. Yep, leave it to Carrie to get all excited over a 60 year old picture she’s seeing for the first time.
Anyhow, watch the website & blog for more info this year!
In mid February, my website hosting company informed me of “strange” traffic to the X-2 Photo Album and they shut the entire website down. After blocking suspicious IP addresses and various other hoops requested by the host, they finally told me I had to take the album down. I was utilizing an album that they offered, but neglected to offer updates for (nor inform their clients when no longer supported).
I’m working at rebuilding the album now through Adobe Lightroom. What’s taking time is going through backups and databases to restore the photo captions and any other descriptive copy. It’ll take some time, but it will all be back soon.
I’ll just put it out there. Scrapping old, historical planes sucks. Heck, scrapping any old airplane sucks. That’s why this story…well…sucks – sort of – it can still have a happy ending.
The Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul, Illinois is closing permanently on November 1. The museum houses planes that used to be used for training, then later on display, at the old Chanute AFB. The museum ran out of money for operations and the city can no longer help with rent or utilities. Enter the Air Force who is determining where each of the planes will go – or if they will just be scrapped due to the costs of moving, etc.
Of the many planes in the collection is the only XB-47 survivor. The Flight Test Historical Foundation is trying to raise $200,000 to move the plane to Edwards AFB. I won’t get into the details on the plane but I’ll put in a request to my readers out there. I’ve donated a few bucks, now it’s your turn. Learn more on the FTHF GoFundMe page.
A few photos from my visit October 3, 2016: Note the painted over windows in the nose
Just had to share this from the Edwards AFB Facebook:
#OTD 21 Oct 1956 at Edwards – Actor William Holden and other Hollywood personalities attended the opening of the new Base Theater and viewed a screening of “Toward the Unknown,” which had been filmed on the base. This marked the official opening of the new base theater. (Edwards History Office file photos)