Ships in Pearl Harbor

This unique gimble, more like a flight simulator, was designed especially for the movie Stealth. It had five axes of motion to allow the plane to incline at different angles in all directions and execute turns typical of fighter jets. Weighing in around 100 tons, it was still able to achieve a very wide range of motion and pull up to two G's. For the cockpit shots, an 18' nose section of the Talon aircraft was attached to the gimble. The section was flown with the actors inside, giving them the most realistic feeling of flight.

The moves were created in two different ways. One was to fly it "live" from the stage floor with an experienced pilot using an actual L10-11 seat with steering pedals, roll and elevation controls, equipped with feedback sensors, basically a "waldo", attached to a motion control computer which could record the moves for later playback. When the pilot made a move, the plane would replicate that move. The other method of motion was using previs moves generated from data files created by the visual effects department. We were also able to sync up with the 3D cable camera computer, enabling the camera and gimble to move simultaneously, creating dramatic virtual fly-by shots.

Out on the airfield

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Rig used to simulate a rough landing

A 750HP CAT diesel engine with 4) 65GPM pumps and a 1000 gallon reservoir were used to deliver fluid to the massive gimble. Four inch pipe was used to transport the oil into the stage and a six inch return line. Eight servo valves were used to drive a combination of cylinders, motors and a rotary actuator. All five axes were closed loop, tied into a custom motion control computer. The gimble was able to pitch 180° in 3 seconds, complete a 360° barrel roll in 4 seconds and rise up to 25' above the stage floor. The gimble was completely fabricated in our facility, tested, then disassembled and shipped overseas. When it arrived at location, the unit was reassembled.

Excerpts from the making of Stealth