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(Courtesy Warner Communications / Your Trailers)

And the Oscar Goes to... the Airplane!

Some of the airplanes that loom largest in our collective memory have flown only in the movies.

F/A-37 Talon in Stealth (2005)

Stealth
(US Navy / Photographers Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements)

In the plotline, the F/A-37 Talon is the Navy’s next-gen fighter, so for its design, artist Oliver Scholl drew heavily on one of the finalists in the competition for the Advanced Tactical Fighter, the Northrop YF-23. His creation was “an intricate combination of angular and smooth shapes,” he says. “They don’t look organic, but they’re not as planar as the original stealth airplanes.” The result was so realistic that when photos of the swing-wing mockup, sitting on an aircraft carrier, circulated on the Web, they set off a firestorm of misinformed speculation about the Navy’s newest fighter. For the fully autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle featured in the movie—called EDI, for Extreme Deep Invader—conceptual illustrator James Lima was allowed to indulge his blue-sky fantasies. His original inspiration was the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. “Even though that plane is 50 years old, it’s still got an element of bad-assness to it,” he says. The EDI’s nose chine came from the Blackbird, while the wings recalled the North American XB-70. “Look at how the control surfaces blend into the fuselage,” Lima says. “I wanted it to look like a quasi-living machine.” EDI pointed to a coming era of robotic air combat—except for one detail. “Originally, there was no canopy,” he says. “But that had to be changed to accommodate a plot point.”

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