The plane, on which they leave, at the end of the movie, was to be a C-82 Boom. The stunt of taking off was too dangerous, so legendary stunt pilot Paul Mantz was asked to merely come in low, run his landing gear along the ground, then take off again, simulating a take-off. On the second take, the plane crashed and was destroyed, killing Mantz. As all of the main footage had already been shot, a North American O-47A observation plane from the Air Museum was substituted for the remaining close-ups.
The Tallmantz Phoenix P-1 was designed by Otto Timm and built by Tallmantz Aviation, Incorporated for this movie. It had the following characteristics: Length: 45' Wingspan: 42' Engine: a like-new Pratt & Whitney R-1340 nine cylinder radial engine of 650 horsepower, taken from a T-6, as were the wheels and various other parts. Wings: wing panels taken from a T-11 (civilian conversion of an AT-11, which is a Beechcraft 18 type ) The apparent wing, tail, and undercarriage wire bracing was made out of clothesline, and was intentionally made to look flimsy. The fuselage and empennage were all hand-built from scratch, plywood over a wood frame. The cockpit was shallow and makeshift. The pilot sat down. Another person stood behind the pilot, and was strapped to a stringer.
At least one of the aircrafts used once flew for the U.S. Marine Corps. The passenger information board inside the fuselage shows VMR-253, a U.S.M.C. transport squadron, and R4Q-1, the military type designation, and the military serial number, BuNo, 126580.
The catalogue of the fictional company "Baecker Flugzeuge", for which Dorfmann works, is a real one by still-existing German model manufacturer Schuco. The shown model plane "Adler" (Eagle) had the order number Hegi 153 SB 7, and was part of their "Tiger" range of radio-controlled models at the time.
The Connie Francis song "Senza Fine" heard over a radio was not a hit on the charts. However, it remains a popular standard in Francis' back catalogue probably because it was used extensively by Billy Wilder in Avanti! (1972).
Three Fairchild C-82 Packet cargo planes were required for filming and were located at Long Beach Airport, California. They were all operated by Steward-Davis, Incorporated, and were registered as N6887C, N4833V, and N53228.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Director Robert Aldrich's son, William, and son-in-law, Peter Bravos are the first two casualties in this movie, killed by falling cargo during the opening credits, as the disabled plane is descending for its crash landing.