The way I figure it, Wings Over Indiana was made for at least three reasons — as a retrospective of Indiana’s ongoing contributions to aviation, a tool to recruit future pilots and a way for WFYI to win photography and production Emmys.
The last of those is the primary reason to watch. This hourlong Indiana Expeditions special is stirringly, stunningly gorgeous, with piercing blue skies and time-lapse photography that will have you exclaiming “wow” or something stronger. Downtown Indianapolis has never looked more magnificent than it does in the circular view seen in this show.
Really, you could watch Wings Over Indiana with the sound off and enjoy every minute.
But don’t, because enthusiastic host Rick Crosslin takes us around the state and shows us everything from kids flying foam plate gliders around The Children’s Museum lobby and young pilots at the Greenwood Airport to Purdue students in a flight simulator and life behind the scenes at the Indianapolis International Airport. He also travels to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., to teach us something about the Space Shuttle.
Crosslin reminds us that Orville Wright was born in Indiana, and that the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, and the last, Gene Cernan, both graduated from Purdue. Those are facts you probably already know.
Here are some things you might not know: The 170,000-member Academy of Model Aeronautics is based in Muncie, where the organization also provides aviation education and a museum. Indianapolis’ municipal airport opened in 1931 with 2,000-foot runways; the new airport’s runways are 11,200 feet. Kids in a Jennings County high school class are building their own airplane.
You’ll see how pilots who tow banners behind their planes do it (extremely cool and somewhat surprising), meet a wing walker and see some shots from an airshow.
And if you don’t know what pitch, roll and yaw mean in relation to flying, you will by the end of this hour.
Wings Over Indiana is a lovefest for all things flying, with every person who speaks talking in glowing terms about the subject. Sully Sullenberger may have endured a 40 percent pay cut and had his pension terminated, but everything here is blue skies ahead. So don’t expect any discussion of pilots on food stamps, airline cutbacks or anything remotely controversial.
Just expect to be visually wowed. Airing March 1, 8 p.m., on WFYI-1, with a primetime repeat March 25, 7 p.m.