Aircraft from the Czech Republic, with Albatros headlining, celebrate 95 years on the silver screen

Prague, June 16, 2022– Czech aircraft from AERO Vodochody, among the oldest airlines in the world, have also had a rich and colourful “film career” spanning the last 95 years. Its aircraft Aero A-11 was cast in its first film role in 1927 in the domestic film Slavia L-Brox, and the most recent role is with the Aero L-39 Albatros, which helped with the filming and training of the cast of the recently released Hollywood blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick.

The Aero A-11, a two-seat reconnaissance and bomber biplane that could reach a top speed of up to 215 km/h, appeared in a Czechoslovak black-and-white film Slavia L-Brox (alternate title: Románek letcův) by director Vladimír Studecký, which premiered on 13 May 1927. The film tells the story of pilot Karel Smělý, who successfully navigates the air race around Karlštejn Castle. This promotional film of Czechoslovak aviation was made with the support of the Masaryk Aviation League (MLL) and the Ministry of National Defence.

The family of reconnaissance and bomber biplanes was expanded in the early 1930s by the
Aero A-100, with 740 horsepower and a flying range of up to 900 kilometres. This aircraft was given an honour of starring, as posters of the time proclaimed, in “the first Czechoslovakian espionage and aviation high-budget film” entitled Vzdušné torpédo 48 (directed by Miroslav Cikán). The film, starring Jaroslav Marvan, Otomar Korbelář and Zita Kabátová, was released on 5 March 1937.

František Filip’s satirical comedy Hrdina má strach opened in Czechoslovak cinemas on 24 June 1966. Due to criticism by socialist society, it was relegated to the storage bins after 1969, and audiences could see it again only after 1990. The film featured an amazing domestic aircraft, the Aero Ae-45. It was a legendary Czech aerotaxi for 4 or 5 passengers with a maximum flying range of 1,000 kilometres.

The first training jet that was completely designed and manufactured in Czechoslovakia was the Aero L-29 Delfin. It was in production from 1963–1974 and was one of the most successful training aircraft in the world. In the 1980s, it appeared in the Czechoslovak films Temné slunce (1980) and Pod nohama nebe (1983). In 2015, this jet appeared in the Czech crime series Vraždy v kruhu. It was also cast for a small role in the international production The Mauritanian (2021), directed by Kevin Macdonald. A light combat aircraft, the Aero L-159 Alca, was flown in the 2018 British drama King Lear, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

The most distinctive imprint on film among the Czech aircraft from Aero was made on the big screen by one of the most famous domestic aircraft, the Aero L-39 Albatros. Most recently, the L-39 was involved in the filming and training of the cast for the Hollywood aviation film Top Gun: Maverick. 

The Czech aircraft also played an important role in the filming of the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). The filmmakers approached the largest Czech aircraft manufacturer with a request to provide the L-39 aircraft together with a pilot to double for Pierce Brosnan, the James Bond character. Ladislav Šnýdr, then an Aero test pilot, flew to the Pyrenees, where the film’s climax was shot for three weeks.

Less visible Czech aviation imprints of the L-39 can be found, for example, in the fourth episode of the legendary action series with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon (1998), in the hit TV series Prison Break (2005), and in the 2011 comic book adaptation Green Lantern.

The first “cinematic experience is yet to come” for the Albatros’s successor, the new Aero L-39NG jet, one of the best training jets in its class.

Lukáš Hora, PR Manager