Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Flying Boat, on DVD

They were the original party boats—and they also flew. Back in the day, if you were “flying down to Rio,” or Havana, you were flying on some kind of sea plane. Perhaps no aircraft better symbolized freedom and escape, which is why a small handful of aviation enthusiasts still love and restore them. Viewers can escape the anti-Semitic hatred we are seeing on TV, including on the streets of New York, for at least 77-minutes, through the welcome respite of Dirk Braun’s documentary Flying Boat, which releases today on DVD and VOD.

Flying boats used to be the way to fly, because there were more harbors than runways. Then WWII happened. Their ability to land in remote bodies of water or desert dunes continued to appeal to the adventurous, but commercial air-travel became anchored on dry, solid land. For a while, the Navy and Air Force maintained a few Grumman Albatrosses, because of their flexible landing capabilities. They also enjoyed a brief vogue among drug smugglers, for obvious reasons. In fact, one of the owners Braun interviews nearly unknowingly sold her Albatross to El Chapo. True story.

Today, it is mostly romantic collectors who own and fly the Albatross, like commercial pilot-turned author Tom Casey. He is trying to restore an Albatross that is literally in pieces, with bird nests knotted in its engines. It will be a lucrative gig for his mechanics, but also a labor of love.

Flying Boat, Braun incorporates some gorgeous aerial cinematography that dramatically captures the Albatross’s grace in the air and its ability to reach stunningly beautiful locations, where no other signs of human life are visible. Without question, this is the best-looking documentary of the year.

There are people talking in
Flying Boat and Braun includes a fair amount of history and context, but this is still a highly escapist documentary. After watching Braun’s film, you will understand why some people love to fly in general and how the Albatross particularly inspires their passions.

This is a lovely doc that reminds us the world is not as ugly as what we have seen the last few days. It is quiet, thoughtful, and at peace with nature. Highly recommended as a way to quickly recharge your spiritual batteries,
Flying Boat releases today (10/10) on DVD and VOD.