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EAA’s Ford Tri-Motor Hits the Silver Screen

EAA planes, staff, and city of Oshkosh part of Public Enemies

Public Enemies shooting with EAA's Ford Tri-Motor
Public Enemies shooting with EAA's Ford Tri-Motor.

Pioneer Airport Departure Board
The Public Enemies film crew left a piece of the set in perpetuity at EAA’s Pioneer Airport - this aircraft arrival and departures board still hangs in the office of the Pioneer Flying Service hangar.
Larger view

July 2, 2009The major motion picture Public Enemies opened in theaters around the country July 1, and EAAers were finally able to see the organization's 1929 Ford Tri-Motor and parts of Pioneer Airport on the silver screen. EAA staffer Zachary Baughman was one of the first to see the film and gave it a big "thumbs up."

Wisconsinites, and especially folks around Oshkosh, have been buzzing about the release of director Michael Mann’s new film Public Enemies. Released nationwide on Wednesday, the film revolves around the final year of Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger’s life. Throughout the film Dillinger, captured flawlessly by actor Johnny Depp, plays a cat and mouse game with Melvin Purvis, portrayed solidly by actor Christian Bale.

Mann has captured the look and feel of the 1930s perfectly with beautiful cinematography, well designed costumes and sets, and a great musical score. Scenes filmed in EAA’s hometown Oshkosh play a large part in the movie—those familiar with the area will quickly recognize the First National Bank on Main Street, the Oshkosh Public Library, and Wittman Regional Airport. EAA’s own Pioneer Airport plays a small role in the film, as does the Museum’s 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, which can be seen about an hour into the 143 minute film. If you look closely at the Tri-Motor you will be able to see EAA’s own Director of Aircraft Operations Sean Elliott looking out of the copilot’s window.

The film flows at a methodical pace interspersed with intense action and hot lead from Dillinger’s Tommy gun. If you’ve had your fill of transforming cars, mutant superheroes, and killer robots from the future, then this nicely done period piece with good solid acting is just for you (and anything with a Ford Tri-Motor in it has to be good)!

Zachary Baughman

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