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Star Wars and EAA: creating Academy Award magic

Published: Mar. 27, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 27, 2022 at 11:12 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - One of the most iconic films of all-time received an Oscar 44 years ago, thanks in part to a Northeast Wisconsin connection.

Star Wars took home the 1978 Academy Award for sound.

What you might not realize is that some of the key sounds in the movie can be traced back to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. Two years prior to accepting their award, the Star Wars sound team traveled to Wisconsin on a mission.

“The George Lucas group, Industrial Light & Magic at the time, came here to Oshkosh during AirVenture and recorded sounds of P-51s flying. So that became part of the mix with all of the other sounds that made that particular sound of those fighter spaceships in Star Wars,” EAA Spokesperson Dick Knapinski said. “If you talk to airplane geeks, they say yes, there’s something unique about the sound of a P-51... you’re supposed to have spaceships whizzing through space and you’ve got a 1940s-era prop plane mixed in all of that, it’s a fascinating story.”

Shortly after the film’s release, EAA was gifted a model of the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars sound crew.

“We’ve heard that it was used in the movie, now that might be apocryphal, we don’t know. But we know it is to scale that they used in the movie, so it is the right size... if you look carefully on the nacelle, and it’s in display in our museum lobby, you’ll see a little bitty vintage EAA sticker because obviously it was an experimental aircraft,” Knapinski continued.

Sound design isn’t the only connection EAA has to Star Wars.

Knapinski explained EAA’s star-studded past.

“Harrison Ford, who was Han Solo, who flew the Millennium Falcon, is an EAA member. He was chairman of our Young Eagles program. He comes to Oshkosh regularly for AirVenture. George Lucas has been here. He was here introducing a movie at the Fly-In Theater one year. All of these connections suddenly come right through this museum where we’re standing at one time or another, here in Oshkosh.”

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