Titled "Project Almanac," the film from famed producer Michael Bay appears to leverage footage of the incident, which occurred at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state. All four men on board the B-52H Stratofortress were killed when the aircraft plunged into the ground and exploded, the result of a risky maneuver gone disastrously wrong.
Officials with Paramount Pictures told Air Force Times on Tuesday that the film, scheduled for release Jan. 30, does not use that footage. Katie Martin Kelley, executive vice president for publicity at Paramount, said in an email that the filmmakers used licensed footage of a March 2009 crash at Narita International Airport in Tokyo. That incident involved a plane owned by the commercial shipping firm FedEx.
Col. Robert Wolff
Photo Credit: file
One clip in the time-travel movie's first trailer — an overhead shot revealing the burned-out husk of an airplane — may indeed show that 2009 crash in Tokyo. But families of two of the victims in the 1994 crash say they are certain a clip in the film's second trailer depicts the tragedy that killed their loved ones.
A publicist there, Paramount Senior Publicist Michelle Rydberg, said the studio is certain sure the filmmakers used stock film of a different crash that took place sometime in the 2000s, which it licensed from a stock-footage company.
But Paramount, however, refused multiple requests from Air Force Times to analyze provide the raw video of the crash it says the filmmakers used for "Project Almanac." Rydberg It would not, or identify the stock-footage company or which year and where the crash took place.
Meanwhile, The families of two of the victims of the 1994 crash say they are certain the clip shows is of the crash that killed their loved ones.
Producer Michael Bay's other credits include "The Transformers" franchise, "Pearl Harbor" and "Armageddon."
Photo Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
During the Gulf War, B-52s flew 35-hour nonstop combat missions aided by aerial refueling as they took off from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, launched cruise missiles at Iraqi forces, and flew back to the U.S. B-52s delivered 40 percent of all weapons dropped by coalition forces during that conflict.
The B-52's lengthy 56.4-meter wingspan and eight Pratt and Whitney engines give the aircraft an unmistakable silhouette.
- The plane in the trailer appears to also be a B-52 and comes in at a seemingly identical angle as the B-52H in the 1994 video.
- Like in the 1994 video, the crashing plane in the trailer appears to strike power lines, causing a shower of sparks right before impact.
- In the trailer, the plane's left wing hits the ground first, and the rest of the plane crumples into the ground immediately afterwards. The 1994 video shows a seemingly identical impact.
- The crash in the trailer causes a fireball that erupts from right to left, just like the fireball in the 1994 video.
- The trailer's crash shows buildings nearby that are seemingly identical to the buildings at the 1994 crash site.
Since 2000, there have been three accidents involving B-52s, according to the Air Force's accident investigation records, but none is that are likely to be the crash depicted in the movie trailer. In July 2008, a B-52 crashed into the ocean 30 nautical miles northwest of Guam, killing all six members of the aircrew. But that was at sea, whereas the movie trailer shows a plane crashing into land.
In November 2012, a B-52H lost inbound wing flap sections shortly after taking off from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. The accident caused considerable damage to the aircraft, but no crew members were injured, the plane made a safe emergency landing and there was no fiery crash.
A December 2001 incident involving a B-52H crash at an undisclosed location overseas in an Air Force Central Command location remains classified, according to the Air Force. That occurred someplace in the Middle East, and it is unlikely video of such a classified incident would end up in the hands of a stock footage company and sold.
What happened to Czar 52
Tragically, his request was not granted.
McGeehan's son Pat said in a Jan. 16 interview he is upset at the context in which what he believes is his father's fatal footage is being used.
"It's unfortunate that they would have to utilize that particular footage of a real-life aircraft tragedy, especially in this age of computer animation and computer-generated special effects," McGeehan said. "It's even more disappointing, utilizing it for a science fiction movie, versus maybe a documentary or a nonfiction-type film. The direction they went in placing my father's accident in the movie is upsetting."
Sarah Wolff said she is also angered that the video is apparently being used to depict a passenger plane crash, not a military crash as it actually was.
"I understand it's public footage, but the way they're using it ... not even portraying it in a true fashion is an extra insult to injury," Wolff said.
McGeehan's son spoke to Kelley, the Paramount executive, and said he was "disturbed" that she continued to insist the footage is of the crash in Japan, not of the B-52 at Fairchild.
Instead, Wolff is encouraging people to boycott the movie.
"Just don't go see it, if they have that much disrespect for the military," she added. "That's the way I feel about it at this point."
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.