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Harry Walker, X-military pilot, works for a radio station in Salt Lake City as a traffic helicopter pilot. While on his rounds he observes a bank robbery taking place and the abduction of a female teller. He follows, 1st the criminals in their car, then they transfer to a helicopter. Harry is running out of fuel so he stops on the road to flag down a tanker truck, gets fuel then continues the pursuit. Written by
Robert Fiedler <email@example.com>
According to the stunt pilot on the film, David Janssen did some of his own flying in this movie. "A favorite project of [pilot Jim] Gavin's was the 1973 made-for-TV movie titled Birds of Prey. It starred David Janssen as a traffic reporter who discovers a bank robbery. 'Birds was a ground-breaking project,' he says. 'We took the helicopter out of its normal environment, put it in the city streets and did all the work with Janssen in flight for real. In fact, since he was a pilot Janssen did a lot of the flying, and I'd sit opposite him.' (Flying Magazine, June 1988, p. 30) See more »
[after Walker saves him by ramming the robbers' helicopter]
Damn it, Walker! Nobody asked you to do that!
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I'm not 100% sure if I saw this TV movie when it first appeared on ABC because this was before my family had a VCR. However, I must have, since I recall "Three Little Fishies" and "I'll Get By" playing during the course of the movie. Some years later, I saw it listed on TBS and fired up the non-HiFi Betamax to capture this "aerial cops-and-robbers" movie. (Alas, none of the surviving Betamaxes can play the tape, so it's all a matter of unreliable memory. No, I didn't get a VHS unit until the VCR wars were over.) At first glance, it looked like a routine movie about a helicopter pilot going about an ordinary day, with a traffic jam and sunbathing beauties to liven up his day. The opening sequence referring to his days as a Flying Tiger and the testy relationship with his ex-buddy-turned police captain should have been a tipoff that things were going to get interesting. Then there was the break in at the military weapons depot by fur-faced, sunglass wearing perpetrators who were OK within killing anyone who stood in their way. Unlike the technowizardry found in "Blue Thunder," Harry walker has only the tools at hand to face down a set of not-ready-for-peacetime military veterans. As the only game in town once an ordinary bank heist turned into an aerial pursuit, this movie shows why Tom Brokaw would call such folk "The Greatest Generation." Considering what kinds of special efx were available at that time, this movie shows what a difference between the real thing vs. the green screen DFX-safe world of today. (As with screenplays, Real trumps Imagination or even "Reimagining".) A chance search on Amazon.com for a butchered VHS version yielded an "On Order" notation. Release of "Birds of Prey" is set for July 12, 2005, and I'll be there to fly the spacious skies of Utah once again, even if "Three Little Fishies" or "I'll Get By" aren't in the soundtrack.
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