Is Flight Based On A True Story? The Real-life Crash Behind The Film

Is Flight Based On A True Story? Captain William “Whip” Whitaker, after a night of heavy drinking, takes control of a plane and navigates it through some tough air.

After dozing off again, his copilot wakes him up in a panic because he sees the jet about to crash. Whip takes control, turning the plane upside down to stop its dive and slowing it down enough to save most of the passengers.

Robert Zemeckis’ Flight is a narrative about a miracle rescue and a deep dive into the life of a bright but troubled aviator. The movie was inspired by some true events, which may come as a surprise to you.


The “Flight” Movie Synopsis

Captain Whip Whitaker of the SouthJet airline is the story’s main character. He is an alcoholic and a drug user. Whip Whitaker, played by Denzel Washington, is a pilot who had to learn to fly for the job. He got flight time with real pilots so he could observe their techniques and learn how to maintain calm under pressure.

After a restless night, he decides to snort cocaine to get himself going so that he can catch SouthJet Flight 227 from Orlando to Atlanta in spite of the rain. When taking off in turbulent weather, the plane experiences severe turbulence. Everything seems to be going well with the flight, but then something goes wrong in the air, and the plane plummets to the ground.

The Addicted Whitaker

After being hailed as a hero, Whitaker is soon convicted of flying while intoxicated. The film follows Whitaker through the aftermath of the plane crash and the destruction of his life and relationships due to his drug abuse.

Amazingly, nearly all of the passengers survive after Whitaker successfully crashes the plane while flying it upside down. In addition to the plane crash, Whitaker’s struggle with alcoholism has been a major factor in his life.

Is Flight Based On A True StorySource: Otakukart

When his entire career and way of life are on the line because of his inability to control his addiction, he still refuses help despite being offered it repeatedly.

Despite director Zemeckis’s prior experience with a comparable scenario in “Cast Away,” the crash in “Flight” is among the most realistic wrecks ever filmed. Director Robert Zemeckis, who earned an Academy Award for his work on “Forrest Gump,” hoped that nobody would laugh at his latest box office bomb, “Flight.

Is Flight Based On A True Story?

The fictional events of the Flight are based on the tragic events of the 2000 disaster of Alaska Airlines Flight 261.

After experiencing jackscrew failure in 2000, Alaska Airlines Flight 261 plunged into the Pacific. Because of the malfunction, pilot Ed Thompson had to do an emergency maneuver and fly the plane upside down. According to the flight recording, Captain Ed commented, “At least, upside down, we’re flying.”

The plane’s descent could have been stopped by flying it upside down, but the damage had already been done. Everyone on board was killed in the plane’s high-speed impact with the Pacific. Sadly, the Airline Pilots Association Gold Medal for Heroism was awarded posthumously to both Thompson and his co-pilot, Bill Tansky.

The moviemakers invested a lot of time and energy into making the flight look authentic. They used a gimbal to replicate the movements of an upside-down airplane, and the cast members were actually in inverted positions. The entire crash sequence was rendered digitally.

To ensure the sequence appeared as authentic as possible, director Robert Zemeckis spoke with experts. “We have real pilots and specialists examine all these concepts,” he said to CTV News.

Denzel Washington studied with pilots to learn their response procedures in a life-or-death situation. He did this by listening to multiple recordings made in the plane’s cockpit just before it crashed.

This story of a damaged pilot was inspired by an encounter writer John Gatins had with a real-life off-duty airline pilot. During his conversation with the pilot, Gatins learned that pilots, like everyone else, struggle with issues.

It got him thinking about how willingly we put our life in the hands of strangers. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said:

For my trip to JFK, I need pilots who would take a bullet for me. And here was a man who could prove that he wasn’t a deity.

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