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One Six Right: The Romance of Flying Print E-mail
Monday, 01 October 2007

Image “One Six Right” takes us on a journey through the history of flight and the skies in this informative documentary on the local airport. “One Six Right”, the name of the main landing/take-off strip of the Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valley, explains the history behind the busiest general aviation airport in the world. It follows the rise of the airport and each one of its major ownership transitions. At same time it gives us a wonderful recap on the birth of aviation and aerodynamics.

General aviation is a term for a local airport where you can park planes, fly private jets, and get away from the mass commercial airlines at International airports like LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). The documentary interviews pilots of the past and present, with the occasional cameo by media figures such as news anchors Hal Fishman and Paul Moyer, as well as director Sydney Pollack, all of whom are pilots in their off-time.

Van Nuys Airport began as the Los Angeles Metropolitan Airport until it was taken over by the US government, at which time the airport was renamed Van Nuys Army Airbase. The documentary also introduces us to many historical facts that are fairly intriguing. It was a great history lesson. Van Nuys Airport was the center for Radio Airplanes, the start of Marilyn Monroe's modeling and acting career, the location for scenes from films such as “Casablanca” and “Flying Deuces”, as well as Pacific Air Races and Formula 1 Air Racing. The Army Airbase was eventually sold to Los Angeles County and renamed the San Fernando Valley Airport and eventually Van Nuys Airport.

Van Nuys Airport remains today's busiest general aviation airport in the world, averaging about one take-off/landing every 45 seconds during normal hours of operation. It also centers as a hub for the Toys For Tots Foundation and angel flights, the transferring of cancer patients across the country, among many other uses. The video quality of this HD DVD is, for lack of a more original word, outstanding. For the first time I saw no evidence of grain in the shots of blue skies, which obviously there are a lot of in this film, being an aviation story and all. All the flight sequences were very crisp and fluid. The clouds in the sky retained every bit of detail and depth, with no blown out bright spots.

Throughout the documentary there are numerous pans across scanned material such as photos, flight logs, and maps. They were all presented with amazing clarity. The detail and magnification of handwriting is so powerful that you could analyze each and every writing stroke. The film also contains a great number of 8mm film transfers. I have never seen such old film stock look so incredible. Yes, there were scratches and dirt marks present on the material, but the contrast and sharpness of the film stock was really high. The documentary truly shines in the area of restoration.

The shots in the film that take place at dusk are a great pleasure to watch. The color, contrast, and black levels all compliment each other, providing a picture with a lot of depth and detail.

My only criticism in the video quality does not have so much to do with the transfer, but with the actual filmed material. Some of the interview scenes are a bit soft. Some of the scenes that contain softness are due to a slight pull on the camera's focus, while the others are more about the lighting. At times the high key lighting is a bit much causing a washed out look. So, the HD DVD transfer gets five stars, but the softness is a bit jarring from the otherwise crisp, colorful HD DVD transfer.

The audio is encoded into a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track. The documentary is primarily dialogue, with little in the way of sound effects. The voice over and production dialogue was well recorded, allowing for a crisp sound on the HD DVD. The music score of the documentary is diverse, using genres such as Jazz and “Speakeasy” parlor music. The main score is very dramatic, reminiscent of scores from motion pictures such as “Pearl Harbor” and “Forrest Gump”.

The menus for this documentary were created by Technicolor, and are very simple and clean, making them very easy to use.

The HD DVD version of “One Six Right” contains a batch of special features, some exclusive to the HD version and the others are represented in standard definition. The exclusive HD content includes, “Into The Clouds”, “The Joyride III”, and “Movie Montage”. “Into The Clouds” is a montage of planes in flight set to Enya's “Only Time” music track. There are a few really nice time-elapsed cloud motion sequences in this special feature that are stunning to watch. “The Joyride III” shows plane aerobatic sequences set to the music of a marching band drumline. “Movie Montage” contains the best shots from the documentary. Many of these shots show an airplane flying in front of a sunset. I can't wait to see what those shots look like through HDMI 1.3 and a Deep Color HDTV. There are distinct color gradients in these shots due to the unavailability of enough colors on present HDTVs.

The standard definition content contains more aircraft montages that don't nearly live up to the picture quality seen in the exclusive HD content. Still, this section of the special features has some intriguing production and historical photos.

The companion DVD, “One Six Left” gives us a further look into the world of flight, and contains some spectacular sequences. Some of the special features on this DVD are the same as on the “One Six Right” HD DVD. There is an interesting featurette with composer Nathan Wang that I recommend for anyone who enjoyed the music score of “One Six Right”.

“One Six Right” is a documentary that is truly educational. Any boy or girl watching this film is bound to discover a passion for aviation and aerodynamics and learn a great deal about the history of flight and the importance of local airports to the community and commerce. The great thing is, a man or woman that watches this film may experience the same joys and education as a child. This documentary reaches out to people of all ages, and delivers a stunning picture that you can use to demonstrate the quality of your system to your friends.

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