“Where You Look, Is Where You Hit…”



In the very same week where, 33 years ago, BLUE THUNDER made its debut on Prime-Time TV, the best website online resource for the helicopter in all media makes its comeback with an all-new look and plenty of new content –

While posts were fewer than anticipated in 2017, the site pages (SPECIAL BASE) have been regularly updated – there you will find constant additions to the gallery and a revised page on the elusive Casio AA-85 Digital Watch as worn by Roy Scheider in the 1983 movie.  The collection has also continued to expand with the addition of some original artefacts from the TV show that will be showcased soon..!

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all the fans who have been in touch and left comments since the site began, your contributions continue to be incredibly valuable and often lead to great things, a great example of which is below courtesy of Thomas Dozier.  Please enjoy the feature on his incredible one-of-a-kind Helmet project and standby for more to come…!

“Gentlemen, this is your Harrison Fire Control Helmet. This baby…is the heart of your system.”

“This was built from the same model HGU Series Dual Visor Flight Helmet used as the actual prop in the movie. I added the rear control box that, in fiction, is supposed to be part of the Heads-Up Display (HUD) system. There is a VCR type jack in the back along with a removable cable so it could be displayed it with or without it.
The boom mic was quite the adventure. After months of searching I realised there are no three section boom mics and the filmmakers custom made them for the film. Both the Blue Thunder helmet as well as the regular flight helmets in the film have these custom made boom mics. The first two sections are original vintage parts that match the film’s helmet exactly, and then like the prop makers, I had to scratch build the front section. I was able to locate the exact vintage microphone as was used in the film.

The helmet has a new old stock original chin strap, not the new lesser quality ones, as well as a new old stock vintage leather roll also. It also features new old stock earphones. Both the earphones and boom mic work so this is an actual working flight helmet.

The color is a dead-on match which I was worried about as it’s not a common blue.  Needless to say it does not have any targeting features…”

Kit. No. 100…

DSC_3130DSC_3131DSC_3133DSC_3137BT_Kit1BT_Kit2‘THE SPECIAL’ is pleased to add this latest vintage rarity to the collection – surely the smallest model kit of the helicopter ever produced to date.

Measuring in at a mere 9cm long, this vending-machine style toy is no bigger than a deck of cards.  Made in Korea and packaged in a fantastic colour box featuring a still from the movie and simple set of instructions on the back this package is complete and in mint condition for its age.

The kit itself possesses an extraordinary amount of detail and accuracy for the scale with very clean sharp lines.  Should anybody know who the manufacturer is or have any further info on this kit feel free to add a comment below.

Meantime, ignore all this current Movie remake nonsense and head over to the ‘TV CONVERSIONS’ tab on the left for all-new content about the further appearances of the one and ONLY original Airbuster…

The Unknown Stuntmen…


These rare behind-the-scenes pics have been haunting the hard drive of THE SPECIAL for years so it is with some satisfaction they can finally be shared.  While apologies must be made for the poor size/resolution I hope you enjoy this brief insight and tribute to the stunt players and brave/crazy cameramen of this film and maybe even help identify some?

While I’m fairly certain the gentleman immediate right in the top pic is the late Jim Gavin the pilot on the left in the shades (featuring prominently on the set wearing Roy Schieder’s bloodied jacket in Gary Mason’s incredible album) and the other two men’s identities remain unknown…

Chopper Wars…

SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 2_0001SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 3SL 81 APRIL84 CHOPPER 1Always beloved and now universally regarded as the ‘internet of its day’, US published Starlog Magazine now serves as an exhaustive chronicle of three decades of Sci-Fi/cult material.

Issue #81 (cover bottom pic) had a little treat for fans of the ‘super-vehicle’ based TV show that started with Glen Larson’s Knight Rider in a feature that would predate an argument that still endures today – which was better, Airwolf or Blue Thunder..?

Thankfully writer Lee Goldberg merely presents the facts for both productions here without the benefit of comparison as both shows were yet to be aired.  So it is with considerable surprise that I discovered none other than Buck Rogers himself (Gil Gerard) was to be Roy Scheider’s successor at the controls and that writer Dan O’ Bannon (despite later penning an episode for the series) was pretty rudely indifferent to his creations success.

Also telling is the first paragraph in the Airwolf case (second pic, middle) where it could be argued some of its eventual dominance/success was down to the grittier aspects of character traits (e.g. PTSD) explored in both Blue Thunder: The Movie and Firefox that ABC’s kiddie-friendly series actively avoided.  All this would’ve been academic though, had the closing paragraph about Columbia’s consideration of a Blue Thunder sequel been realised…

THE SPECIAL expresses thanks to SLOW ROBOT’s blog for use of its scans here – for much more vintage magazine coolness head over to STARLOGGED without delay…

“Gee, neat shot..”


Motion2Motion3Motion4BT_AdMotion5Enjoy this final article from the May 1983 American Cinematographer – bringing this series of posts to its conclusion.  I’ve also included a scan of the full-page ad taken out by Tyler Camera Systems congratulating the crew on its aerial photography work on the film.  Will we ever see its like again the digital age..?

9871 Feet…

BT_Camp1BT_Camp2BT_Camp3BT_Camp4BT_Synop1BT_Synop2BT_Synop3BT_Synop4More quaint souvenirs of the pre-digital age, this pair of four page cast list/synopses were distributed to the UK press for the purposes of promotional copy.  The Exhibitors Campaign Book provided by National Screen Service, Ltd. (top four pics) is typical of its kind but especially rare as the ad ‘blocks’ on the back page were inevitably cut out for composition into listings for local showings.  Among the nuggets of information present we also learn that editor Frank Morriss cut the final length to 9871 feet – not bad going when starting with a million…

Click on the scans above for larger, readable versions and look out for the much more exciting/expansive US version in a future post…

Scheider’s Law…

Cosmo1Cosmo2Cosmo3Cosmo4Cosmo5Enjoy this candid and insightful interview with our very own (and dearly missed) actor/ maverick pilot from (of all things) July 1983’s Cosmopolitan magazine.

Once described as a ‘lean cut Giacometti sculpture with a lone wolf aura’ and regarded by both peers and friends as the ultimate consummate professional ‘everyman’ he was known for on screen, Roy Scheider was as talented as he was underrated.  MUCH more to come in future posts on our favourite ‘Man in the sky…’

Das Fliegende Auge…


West Germany has the curious distinction of having Blue Thunder (or Das Fliegende Auge) released there both first and well in advance of the rest of the world. Indeed, as the vintage programme above testifies (bottom pic) it would open in February 1983 while other territories waited until at least June and at latest September.

Whatever Columbia Pictures strategy may have been, it certainly paid off.  Auge broke box-office records and would make 2,355,048 theatrically (according to IMDB) with much more to follow in rentals (where the fierce onset of the video industry first threatened to eclipse cinema) and remains a popular title there to this day.  Given the minimalist theatrical poster campaign (below) one wonders if its initial European appeal hinged instead on something as basic as the surname of its leading man..?


The Book Of J-Bad…

Badham_BookOne of the mission prerogatives for ‘THE SPECIAL’ Is to keep Thunderfans appraised of all relevant news and merchandise both vintage and current.

What a pleasure, then, to discover that one of Hollywood’s most prolific Auteurs has put pen to paper to share his wisdom and experiences with the rest of us.  Why should we care?  Because the author is none other than Blue Thunder director John Badham.

JBMore an anecdotal ‘How to’ rather than a straightforward autobiography, the new book ‘Badham on Directing’ may well prove to be an indispensable user guide for aspiring filmmakers.

Exerpted below are passages from a recent interview by cult website Topless Robot, where interestingly, Brit-born Badham is keen to cite Blue Thunder as the adult-oriented opening to his signature ’80’s Techno-trilogy –

LYT: I wanted to ask you a question about technology in general, since you’ve made two sort of iconic movies: Short Circuit and WarGames, that both ultimately come to the conclusion that technology that we create to destroy will ultimately become benevolent. Was that a coincidental theme that you just happened to like the stories and that was the theme there, or was that something you really think about a lot?

JB: Yeah, I would actually add into that and make a little trilogy, adding in Blue Thunder, because Blue Thunder deals with a lot of stuff that we’re looking at right now very hard – government’s intrusion into our lives and how much intrusion is okay. Blue Thunder was released before the year 1984; that was an iconic year because of George Orwell’s novel all about government intrusion, looking into the future. All three of these films deal with the dangers of technology and how it can go off-track, sometimes in a very funny way, as in Short Circuit, or in scary ways, as in the other films. We’ve always been worried about how computers can go wrong, but what we’re seeing mostly is either computers going wrong mechanically, or because of elaborate hacking designed for pretty malevolent criminal purposes.

bluedirectorLYT: When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the Blue Thunder TV series, which I think lasted an entire season.

JB: Right, right; just one season.

LYT: I don’t think any of those themes really made it into the show, did they? How did you feel about the show, in general?

JB: I was not a fan of the show. I had a lot of troubles with it. I think they just were looking to make an entertainment, and it was kind of, not a clone, but a copy of The A-Team. It became that pretty quickly. As I told them when they talked to me first about it, I said “I know you’re not going to be able to fly that helicopter very much – it’s bloody expensive! And on a TV show budget, I don’t think that’s really in the cards.” Sure enough, after 3 or 4 or 5 episodes, they put people down on the ground in a big van, running around that way, doing something more affordable, and forgetting about any themes of invasion of privacy, or anything like that. It just became another cop show.

Full interview can be found here.  Book is now available from Amazon.com and will be released towards the end of the month on Amazon.co.uk.  Review in future post…

Alonzo, A.S.C…

Alonzo1Alonzo2Alonzo3Alonzo4Alonzo5Alonzo6Alonzo7Alonzo8Presented in full as promised, the second exhaustive piece from may 1983’s American Cinematographer magazine pulls focus on Blue Thunder’s photographer –  the late John Alonzo.

Veteran of such pictures as Scarface and Chinatown, Alonzo would become notable for his almost invisible hand-held technique and being the first Cinematographer of Latin heritage to be inducted into the US Cinematographer’s union.

While his gritty, urban style was ideal for Blue Thunder, the article above details all the process shots done on the ground that still convince as aerial to this day.

Coming soon – the concluding chapter on Motion Control…