Joe Tobul brought his venerable 1945 warbird "Korean War Hero" to Long Island from its home in South Carolina to bring a touch of reality and stirring nostalgia to the film.
The flight to Long Island was a trip to remember for Joe, since it took place within two months of the tragic terrorist attack against the World Trade Center towers in New York City on September 11. Due to severe restrictions in effect at the time, he was forced to fly 30 miles out to sea enroute to Republic Airport on Long Island. "Joe said he didn't mind, because he was reading the script and laughing all the way," said Tucci.
Joe did everything from letting the film crew crawl all over his Corsair to doing countless fly overs for the cameras. He even helped out with setting and striking the sets and driving the equipment truck.
Joe's beautifully restored F4U-4 Corsair brought its own remarkable history to the film, having logged over 200 combat missions during tours aboard two separate aircraft carriers during the Korean War.
Between December and May 1951, at least four Naval Air Reserve pilots from VF-653 flew this Corsair into combat from the U.S.S. Valley Forge (CV45).
From June through October 1951, Joe's Corsair saw extensive action with VF-884, the "Bitter Birds," aboard the U.S.S. Boxer (CV21), where it carried the same plane number it presently displays (416).
The old warbird was retired from Naval service on July 5, 1956. Sent into limited retirement, the fighter took to the skies once again from about 1960 to 1970, when it flew with the Honduran Air Force.
An American Airlines pilot bought the plane in 1970 and brought it home to the United States. Jim and Joe Tobul bought the plane in 1981 and began a lengthy labor of love to restore the Corsair to its original condition.
Ten years later, in December 1991, the "Korean War Hero" proudly took to the skies once again, still carrying a few reminders of its war service ... three flak repair patches on the right wing and aft fuselage area.
In addition to the "real thing," the film used four different aircraft in to substitute for Caleb's Corsair as well as painstakingly detailed digital models. "It was a dream come true working and filming those wonderful planes," said Billy.