F-14 Tomcat

[Video] F-14 Pilot who helped film “The Final Countdown” tells the story of when he let the cameraman in the B-25 camera plane touching his Tomcat with his foot in mid flight

The movie company obtained a modified B-25 from Tallmantz Aviation, with a camera in the tail gunner position.

The interesting video in this post features Alan “Shoes” Mullen, one of the F-14 Tomcat pilots from VF-84 Jolly Rogers that helped film The Final Countdown, recalling a story about letting the cameraman in the B-25 camera plane touch his Tomcat with his foot in mid-flight.

As we have already explained in a previous article, Shoes said that filming in Key West “started with a helicopter as a camera platform, two T-6s (and a spare) playing Zeros, and about five F-14s: two painted as ‘202,’ two painted as ‘203,’ and one spare ready to be anything.”

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“The strategy was doomed from the start. The movie guys wanted the Tomcats flying with their wings swept back to look cool (so we had to be fast), the T-6s flying with their canopies open to look cool, (which slowed them down) and the helicopter hovering as a stable camera platform, theoretically in a known location.” That is, until the tropical winds blew it around.

But a helicopter as camera platform complicated their filming. Shoes said, “Every scene was an attempt to get three pool balls to collide on a pool table at exactly the same time. Try it sometime!”

“Either the Tomcats and Zeros were awesome, but no helicopter was there to film it. Or the helo was trying to hang on to a formation of Zeros and the Tomcats fell out of the sky trying to slow down to below 200 knots with the wings swept back.” It was an expensive waste of time.

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Eventually the movie company obtained a modified B-25 from Tallmantz Aviation, with a camera in the tail gunner position.

“This was a game changer because the bomber was speed compatible with the Zeros and they could comfortably fly in formation with the bomber as one element. We (Tomcats) could fly at 300 knots or more to sweep the wings and finally we only had to get two pool balls to hit on the table at the same time. Infinitely easier!”

The following footage is an edited excerpt from the bonus DVD from The Final Countdown movie.

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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