August 1, 2004
French Air Force fighter-bombers flying across Paris during the July 14th Bastille Day parade were carrying cameras for a crew making a new movie; "Chevaliers du Ciel" "Knights of the Sky." French Air Force officials hope the $45 million spy-adventure film will spur pilot recruitment in a way similar to the American film "Top Gun's" impact on the United States Navy. The movie crew used at least one Mirage 2000 fighter, several helicopters, and 10 cameras along the Champs-Elyesee shot footage of the 4,000 marchers, 300 military vehicles, and 100 aircraft participating in the annual parade.
In addition, the French military has allowed filming at its Dijon and Djibouti bases and to date has provided around 300 hours of flight time on Mirage 2000s. French aerospace manufacturer Dassault has contributed a Rafael fighter and 70 flight hours to the project. "Knights of the Sky" is a film adaptation of a popular French aviation comic strip, "Tanguy and Laverdure," that started publication in 1959. The heroes of the strip have flown everything from prop planes to the latest French fighters and also were the focus of a short-lived French TV series in 1967-1968.
Creation of the 1986 "Top Gun" movie would have been impossible without the open cooperation of the US Navy and access to bases, aircraft, and an aircraft carrier. After it was released in 1986, Navy recruitment soared to record highs, with the service going so far as to place recruiters in many theaters showing the film. Doug Mohney