A scientist who has created a super helicopter has defected to Libya and taken the machine with him. A secretive government agency hires an ex-Vietnam War pilot to go to Libya, steal the chopper and bring it back.
Donald P. Bellisario
Blue Thunder is a specially modified helicopter. It is for police work, but is armed and designed to counter street insurgencies. Its makers want to show what it will do, but have to train Los Angeles Police pilot Frank Murphy to fly and use it in order to allow it to operate in the city. Murphy and the project pilot have differences going back to Vietnam. The conflict between them continues to heat up as Murphy begins to suspect that Blue Thunder is more than has been disclosed. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The filming was done partly by real helicopters, part via radio-controlled flying models, and part by static cockpit with rear projection. See more »
The F-16s scramble out of March Air Force Base. In 1983, the 163rd Fighter Group, at the time, the California Air National Guard fighter unit at March, flew F-4Cs. The 163rd never upgraded to the F-16. The first ANG unit to receive the F-16 was in South Carolina in July of 1983, two months after the release of this film. See more »
[Murphy and Lymangood are flying a formation exercise with Cochrane]
Col. F.E. Cochrane:
Come on, Keep it tight!
Christ! Any closer and we start eating blades!
[mimicking Cochrane's British accent]
We're following his leader!
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The hardware, weaponry and surveillance systems depicted in this film are real and in use in the United States today. See more »
One of the things that really caught my attention about this film was the brief blurb at the beginning which stated something to the effect of "All of the surveillance equipment depicted in this film exists and is in use in the United States." Knowing what I do of technology, I am not surprised that those capabilities existed back then. However, I received a powerful demonstration of the stealth technology called "whisper mode" in the film, a couple of years after seeing it. I live near a major U.S. Army firing range, and our local airport hosts a considerable amount of military traffic. At this particular time, I was renting a house about one kilometer from the airport. I went out for a walk late one Sunday night, and, shortly after leaving the house, I heard a noise I could not identify. It was a loud hissing sound, 'which seemed very close at hand, but I could not locate the source, until I looked up. Passing overhead at about 200 meters was a Chinook helicopter, the type with two rotors, and fuselage that looks kind of like a banana. Normally, the rotor noise on these cargo helicopters will rattle windows, but this baby was tip-toeing out of town very quietly. If I had been indoors, I never would have heard it. This made me completely rethink the sequence where the helicopter was hovering right outside of a building, and the people inside couldn't hear it! I took it for artistic license at the time, but the demonstration I witnessed of "whisper mode" made it seem entirely feasible.
This film appealed to me strongly, for several reasons. I am a techno freak, to begin with, and I love anything that flies. Also, the characters in the movie are amazingly human, kooky, (especially the lead characters wife,) and easy to identify with. And the kind of shenanigans the Feds were trying to pull seem all too realistic to me, in light of some of the things that they have been caught doing! And I loved the response of sending a couple of F-15's armed with missiles after the renegade, when he is stooging around in downtown Los Angeles. Missiles are not known for being highly selective when they are of the heat seeking type, and urban areas are rich with thermal signatures which can confuse the tiny brain packed into an air-to-air missile. The filmmakers actually downplayed the havoc that could result from launching such weapons in a downtown area.
I found the film to be an enjoyable, realistic, thought provoking experience, which I would recommend to most people. The hardware is not the star, thanks to the excellent work of Roy Scheider and his supporting cast, and the dialog is tight and realistic. When informed that one of the suspects in a liquor store robbery is wearing a Hawiian shirt and a cowboy hat, Scheider's character says, "What ever happened to being inconspicuous?"
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