Space: Above And Beyond Props
Last updated: February 14, 2016 4:15 PM (CST)
Back in July of 2007 I bought one of the "Hero" SA-43 Hammerhead Fighter Plane cockpits from a sci-fi show you may have heard of called Space: Above and Beyond. (^_^) The prop/set piece is constructed out of a steel tubing under frame, with an MDF wood shell, as well as metal panels, puch buttons Hollywood magic. Getting it out of the freight hauling truck was hard, but getting it out of my company's truck was just as hard. It took 4 of us to figure out how we were going to make it happen. In the end it all worked out just fine. My cockpit is one of the "hero" ones used in the US production of the series. It has all the buttons and switches as well as 2 light boxes for the video monitors. The boxes contain 2 transparency gels with graphics printed on them. She's in pretty sad shape, having been repainted at least twice over the years. It has a partial wiring harness that ends in a series of plugs which at the time the series was in production were plugged into an off camera control panel to control which sets of lights were active at any given moment. It also has an electronically operated air piston which opens and closes the canopy. It is operated by an auto centering switch on the back of the cockpit. I haven't yet tried powering it up. Sadly, I don't have any sort of wiring schematics for the cockpit and the TCFox Records/Archives department has not been helpful in my quest to find engineering plans or wiring diagrams. It's going to need a fair amount of work to get back in "fighting trim," but I hope to do so one day. And without further ado... the pics!
How many people does it take to scre... I mean, remove a 12 foot, 1500 lb box out of a truck?
And THEN we had to get it off the lift gate of the truck. It was... interesting...
I feel like Indiana Jones opening the location of the Lost Ark...
I bet you never knew you could de-mothball a fighter plane with just a multi-tool...
" Dad, Santa came, can we open it?"
"Well, you see son, the Flux Capacitor connects to the Occilation Overthruster and... it looks like you need an oil change and a good dusting."
(Left to Right) Nick's Brother Ben, Ben's Brother Nick, Me, and Jay.
I got a good deal on the cockpit itself... but the shipping was almost as much, pushing the total cost to almost double our agreed upon price. If I lived closer to California I would have used a trailer and drove out to get it myself, but at the time (2007) gas prices were up around $3 a gallon and after crunching the numbers it would have cost only slightly less to drive there and back to Minnesota (halfway across the country). It is without a doubt the most expensive real prop (or for that matter, replica) that I've ever purchased. Still paying for it. (^_^) The prop house was asking $5,000, but I got it for less than half that with all the crating fees and shipping. Wish I could have gotten the ISSCV dropship as well, but their asking price was $20K, so that Wasn't happening. (^_^) Factoid: The steering "wheel" flight yoke is the wheel from a Formula 1 racing car. The pistol grip flight stick is bolted to the right hand console. When you see pilots move the stick in the series, they are inside the motion axis cockpit mounted on a gimble. The gimble cockpit was also the only one with functioning video monitors in it... But mine will have them eventually (see the end notes section...) The shoulder "harness" is mounted to a spring loaded pin. When actors would get into the cockpits the harness would be in the up position. A "technician" would step forward and lower the harness onto the actor's shoulders by pulling the locking pin and lowering it by hand. rewatch the series and you'll see it happen. Also, there's a few times in the series when you see either techs or pilots standing near the rear of the cockpits when the hatch is lowered. That's because they manually activate the air piston switch to raise/lower the canopy.
Correct, the yoke is for flight control and the pistol grip was normally only seen used for launching either bombs or missiles. The yoke also does move in and out about 4-5". It also has a push button box on the right side of the yoke to "fire guns." Although technically it should be mounted on the inside of that grip. The ergonomics are way off for practical use. smile.gif The pistol grip is an actual military surplus fighter plane pistol grip stick. All buttons do move on it. It's actually pretty cool, I just wish it moved forwards and backwards like the one in the Gimbal cockpit. (^_^) The only thing "missing" from my cockpit (aside from button covers) is a display panel that's supposed to be located under the flight yoke. I think that perhaps only the gimbal mounted cockpit had that, but I could be wrong. I believe a couple of othe other cockpits had them, mine doesn't even look like it was ever mounted there. I should mention that while the actors on the show all looked tall, they were in fact shorter in height with only one of them (as I recall) being over 6 foot tall, and that was Rodney Rowland (Hawkes). Having said this, getting in and out of the cockpit is a bit of a squeeze for myself who's just over 6'. You need to push the yoke in as far as it will go, turn it sideways so the handles are on top and bottom, then you should have enough room to fit your legs in. Also, there's a reason why they abandoned the aarmored Shin guards later in the series. You cannot get into the cockpit with them on. (^_^) Another Factoid: The pilot helmet connect hoses are the same as used on the breather back packs. They're a clothes washing machine hose with a spring loaded plastic quick disconnect nozzle.
So apparently havaing a button to start the engines is just optional equipment in the future... or somebody salvaged it. I'm leaning towards that latter option. There's a few bottons missing from my cockpit sadly.
Here's the rumored "Series Status" and "Simpson's" panels. You gotta love prop department guys with a sense of humor!
Misc. Pictures... Including Measurements!
Images are clickable to see a larger size picture.
So my evil plans for the future include refurbing the cockpit back to as close to original as I can get the thing. This year (2016) I finally purchased a set of actual CRT monitors. I got them a set, one is a SONY Trinitron PVM-8041Q (accurate to the show) and the slightly newer PVM-8044Q. The difference between them is mainly that the 8044Q allows you to display a widescreen image and a slightly higher resolution, but none of that will really matter for my purposes since I plan on just displaying a video loop of information like LIDAR (a word which combines the words Light and radar, meaning a laser illuminated form of RADAR) or maybe Weapon system status screens.
All images, unless specified, are Copyright 2002-2016 Rook's Castle.