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New Movie "Pushing Tin" Provides a Lighthearted View of the Turbulent Air Traffic Control Profession - (4/21/1999)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  "You may have heard about them. You might not know what they do, but if you had the chance to meet them, you would take the train," voiceover for the film trailer. This commentary is promoting the new Fox movie "Pushing Tin," opening nationwide in theaters April 23. The two main characters Nick Falzone (John Cusack) and Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton) both work at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control. The TRACON is one of the busiest facilities in the world and handles up to 7,000 flights a day through complicated airspace of LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark airports.
 
"Obviously artistic liberties were taken for dramatic purposes, but the film has some funny moments and good one liners. If there is one thing that movie-goers will get out of this film it is a new appreciation of how stressful our profession is," says NATCA Eastern Region Vice President Joe Fruscella.

Earlier this month, members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association attended an advanced screening in New York. "This is the first film that realistically portrays the technical aspects of our profession," remarked NATCA President Mike McNally.

Two professional controllers served as technical advisors on the set. The movie also strives to show how air traffic controllers deal with stress and the effects of that tension on their families. The idea for the film took flight after movie producer Art Linson read a 1996 New York Times magazine article chronicled the life inside the TRACON. He immediately thought it would make a good story and quickly obtained the rights.

The movie's theme has been compared to the hit film and television series "M*A*S*H." Controllers who have seen the movie noted the parallelisms. "Just like the doctors who joke around on 'M*A*S*H,' controllers can also switch gears and take their job very seriously when the time calls," commented one controller.


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