Harrison Ford on flying: After crash, he will narrate documentary on flight

After his recent plane crash, Harrison Ford will be narrating a documentary on the miracle of flight. While it may seem like awkward timing, the film has actually been in the works for years.

Jordan Strauss/AP/File
Harrison Ford arrives at the premiere of "The Expendables 3" at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles in August 2014. Just weeks after he crashed a vintage airplane on a Los Angeles golf course, Ford will return to the skies - or his voice will at least. National Geographic Studios announced Thursday, March 19, 2015, that Ford will narrate a documentary being released next month called “Living in the Age of Airplanes.”
Matt Reilly/Courtesy of National Geographic
Director of Photography Andrew Waruszewski (right) frames a shot with filmmaker Brian J. Terwilliger (left) in Rome, Italy, for the new film "Living in the Age of Airplanes."

Harrison Ford has once again made headlines for his love of flying.

The actor, who recently survived a plane crash involving a World War II-era plane, will narrate a documentary celebrating the miracle of flight.

National Geographic Studios announced the premiere of the documentary, “Living in the Age of Airplanes” on Thursday, which will take place at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on April 8. While the timing may seem a little strange given Ford’s recent incident, the documentary has actually been in the works for years.

“We had previously announced [Ford’s] narration back in December. But in light of recent events, people are showing a little more interest this time around, even though it’s been in the works for awhile,” Meaghan Calnan, a spokesperson for National Geographic, told The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview.

The filmmaker, Brian J. Terwilliger, knew of Ford’s love of aviation and passion for flying. A few years ago, he reached out to the actor to work on the documentary, which leveraged both filmmaker’s and narrator’s connections to the aviation industry. Ford recorded his narration for the film in the spring of 2014, so by the time of his Mar. 5 plane crash his role in the documentary was already complete.

“It really was just an unfortunate coincidence,” Ms. Calnan said. “By that point the film was already in the can, as they say, so it had no effect on the documentary other than that we had hoped [Ford] would be able to join us for the premiere.”

The documentary takes the audience on a journey across all seven continents and through 18 countries to explore how aviation has changed the world. The film was shot in 95 locations around the world, including the South Pole, Maldives, and the sites of ancient civilizations, exploring how the miracle of flight has connected cultures and changed perspectives.

“Since we were all born into a world with airplanes, it’s hard to imagine that jet travel itself is only 60 years old, just a tick on the timeline of human history,” said Mr. Terwilliger in a statement. “Yet practically overnight, our perception of crossing continents and oceans at 500 mph has turned from fascination to frustration. I want to reignite people’s wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world.”

And perhaps there is no one better than Ford to narrate such a journey. The actor has long shared his love of flying with the public. He received his pilot’s license in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, he rescued a mountain climber in Wyoming. Then in 2001, he rescued a missing Boy Scout with his helicopter. Even with his recent crash, officials have said that his survival was due in large part to his skill and knowledge as a pilot.

"I would say that this is an absolutely beautifully executed—what we would call—a forced or emergency landing, by an unbelievably well-trained pilot," said Christian Fry of the Santa Monica Airport Association, reported the Associated Press.

The film will premiere on April 8, but will open across the country in IMAX, giant screens, and dome screens on April 10. With recent publicity surrounding Ford and his miraculous crash landing, Calnan hopes that others will consider learning more about the power of flight.

“We’re hoping that it reaches a broader audience given people’s increased interest,” Calnan said. “There’s definitely a large community of people that are passionate about aviation in general.”

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