Live and Let Fly
Real pilots rate the performance of the airplanes in James Bond flicks.
- By David Lande
- Air & Space magazine, September 2008
The Kobal Collection
(Page 2 of 8)
Another record-setting autogyro pilot, Andy Keech, who has 450 hours in seven autogyro types, says of the WA-116: “It was the most sympathetic machine I had ever been in. The blades of the WA-116 are quite short, relative to other gyros, at 20 feet. They are therefore very smooth and there is no feedback into the stick. It is as smooth to fly as a Piper Cub.”
Verdict: In a coded message to HQ, Bond described Little Nellie’s reception: “Four bigshots made improper advances toward her, but she defended her honor with great success.” Packing heat, Little Nellie is tailor-made to fit Bond cool.
Lockheed L1329 JetStar
EON Productions evidently liked the Lockheed JetStar so much that it was awarded two roles in Goldfinger (1964). It first appears as the executive aircraft of criminal mastermind Auric Goldfinger, and later reappears as a C-140 military transport.
As a corporate pilot, Neil Looy flew 3,000 hours in several iterations of JetStars. “At the time the plane came out, it was the premier corporate jet,” he says. “It was built like an airliner. A little more complicated than some of the Learjets and Gulfstreams that would come out on the market.”
With its four tail-mounted engines, “you could practically see the gas gauges moving—those four little Pratts were burning that much JP-4 [fuel],” he says, referring to the Pratt & Whitney JT12A-6 turbojets. Yet even with the four engines it’s underpowered, impotent to climb to cruising altitude as long as the tanks are full. “You had to stair-step to get up to altitude, like the airliners,” says Looy. “With the 731 version of the JetStar [equipped with Garret AiResearch TFE731-3 turbofan engines], I’d get up to 35,000 feet and have to wait until I burned off fuel before I could bring it up to higher altitude, burn more fuel, and go up higher.”
Still, Looy loved the JetStar for its airliner qualities—“so large, heavy, and roomy. Wonderful to fly.” And the novelty of an executive luxury jet was no doubt cool for 007 audiences to see in 1964.
Verdict: While certain deficiencies can be overlooked, any kind of impotence automatically disqualifies an aircraft from Bond cool.