GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — A lot of hype surrounds the newest installment of the Mission: Impossible movie franchise, and Airbus Helicopters in Grand Prairie had a big hand in creating some of that excitement.
Airbus Helicopters, Inc. has a campus in Grand Prairie that serves as the company’s headquarters for administration, sales, and marketing.
The assembly, customization, and flight testing of aircraft are done there too. Airbus has been in Texas since 1969 and provides jobs for around 600 employees.
Now the facility can add training Tom Cruise for a gripping and acrobatic chase scene in ‘Mission: Impossible—Fallout’ to its list of achievements.
On the Graham Norton Show in January, Cruise revealed that a helicopter chase would be the biggest stunt for the upcoming movie. Sequences of the chase included in the film’s trailers don’t disappoint either.
“I spent about two years thinking about an aerial helicopter sequence,” Cruise said. “The sequence is just incredibly exhilarating and very dangerous.”
“We’re flying very low, and very close to rock faces in the sequence.”
Airbus provided three choppers for the film. And since Cruise is adamant about doing his own stunts, he got his helicopter license and spent time in the company’s simulators in Grand Prairie to train for the scene.
Chris Emerson, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, told WFAA that it was a unique experience. “Tom makes it look easy,” Emerson said. “I wouldn’t try what he did at home.”
“He’s just one of 2,000 students that we train every year—and we’re excited that we were able to afford that opportunity. Hopefully, it translates to more pilots wanting to come and train in Grand Prairie,” Emerson added.
The helicopter that Cruise flies during the chase is an H125. It’s one of the more popular in the world and sells for more than $3 million —according to Emerson.
“You’ll find it in law enforcement, air medical, and in the VIP market,” Emerson said.
The exact helicopter that Cruise uses in the sequence is actually in Grand Prairie right now at Airbus’ campus. Emerson explained that Airbus had to modify it so that Paramount Pictures could put cameras on the front.
Those cameras point towards the cockpit and allow the audience to see that Cruise is doing all the flying. According to Paramount Pictures, it’s a tactic that’s never been done before. “No one else is in the cockpit, in fact, we even had to modify the panels so that there was no obstructed view of him piloting the aircraft,” Emerson said.
Cruise trained with Tim McAdams, the Chief Instructional Pilot for Airbus. He wasn’t allowed to speak with us due to a non-disclosure agreement with Paramount Pictures—but in a behind the scenes vignette on YouTube, you can spot him on location in New Zealand during the filming of the chase.
He says in the video that, “There are very few students with Tom’s dedication.” Emerson said that employees got a sneak peak of the film Tuesday night, which opens everywhere Friday.
He admits that Airbus isn’t making helicopters to be in the movie industry but added that it’s great to see his choppers on the silver screen.“We’re all very excited to be part of this film,” he said.