Tallmantz Phoenix P-1 - Flying Phoenix

Tallmantz Phoenix P-1   N93082

Movie Scene: The Phoenix takes to the air for the first time
during the film's climatic flying shots.

History Table

Type MSN Owner
Phoenix P-1
1 Tallmantz Aviation Inc. / civil reg. N93082
(under contract from 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
Dates History
late 1964 - early 1965
14 Jun. 1965
25 Jun. 1965
29 Jun. 1965
07 Jul. 1965
08 Jul. 1965
12 Jul. 1965
- Design and construction for the P-1 scratch-build begun by Tallmantz Aviation Inc.
- P-1 construction completed, FAA certificate issued with civil reg. N93082.
- P-1 transported in sections by truck to Yuma Intl. Airport.
- First flight of the P-1 by Paul Mantz recorded at Yuma Intl. Airport.
- P-1 performs it's first scenes for the movie before cameras at a desert location.
- P-1 crashes during filming at 05:51am local time killing pilot Paul Mantz.
- Paul Mantz's funeral held in Orange County, California.

Behind the Scenes

This is the second of three Phoenix aircraft built for the film.

In late 1964 or early 1965 Tallmantz Aviation Inc. of Orange County, CA. was hired
by 20th Century Fox Film Corp. to supervise the aerial sequences for their
film The Flight of the Phoenix. Paul Mantz and Frank Tallman, both veterans
of Hollywood stunt flying ran the company which built the flying version
of the Phoenix aircraft and also supervised the air-to-air shots of the
Steward-Davis C-82A, N6887C seen taking off at the top of the film.

It was quite a feat to scratch build a completely new aeroplane for a movie,
something not commonly done, but famed aircraft designer Otto Timm
pulled it off and did a brilliant job of creating a cannibalized C-82A
look-a-like which the FAA passed and certified with civil
registration N93082, on June 14th, 1965.

Heres a list of how the Tallmantz Phoenix P-1 was built:

Length: 13.72 meters / wingspan: 12.80 meters / empty weight: 2064 kgs.
Engine / engine cowling / undercarriage wheels / cockpit
Engine came from a North American T-6 Texan as did the engine cowling,
it was a 9 cylinder Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-1340-AN-1 generating 600h.p.
The engine was serviced by Fast-Way Engine Overhaul of Long Beach
in April / May 1965. The propeller, undercarriage wheels on the skids
and many of the cockpit controls etc. also came from the same Texan trainer.

Wings / tail wheel
Outer wings came from a Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor.
Wing roots were scratch built by Tallmantz.
Tail wheel was a nose wheel from a North American L-17 Navion.
Fuselage / tail section / skids
The fuselage was scratch built at the Tallmantz workshops near Santa Ana, CA.
It comprised a tubular steel framework surrounded by circular wooden bracing
frames with a plywood covering, the tail section was similar in construction,
the skids were scratch built from steel parts. Wire bracing was added
made from clothesline to intentionally create a "flimsy" look.

Three shots of the Phoenix P-1 made the final cut of the film, one was the
"first take" fly-by close to the camera, the second was an overhead pass
by a sand dune and the third was a stunning wide shot of the P-1 slowly
making it's way over the Imperial Valley sand hills.
During filming on July 8th, 1965, second unit director Oscar Rudolph called for
a second take fly-by for safety reasons, (a common practice in the film industry).
As Mantz came in for another low camera pass his rate of decent was to high for
him to arrest considering the design of the aeroplane - nose heavy, no flaps
or adequate trim. The skids of the P-1 unexpectedly scrapped the ground,
the jarring impact of which caused a structural failure in the aircraft boom
section behind the wings. This caused the nose section to fall forward
at 90mph, the P-1 breaking up violently, killing Paul Mantz, 62, instantly.
Stuntman Billy Rose, also on board, was thrown clear and
survived with a broken shoulder. Mantz's body was flown back
to Orange County, CA. in his B-25 camera-ship, N1203.
The film's last credit pays tribute to Paul Mantz, a brilliant flyer.

Filming Location

The flying shots were all filmed at Pilot Knob Mesa, Winterhaven which is located
still in Imperial Valley, California but right on the northern fringes of Yuma, Arizona.
GPS location (Pilot Knob): N32deg. 43.48 W114deg. 44.52 Elev. +210m.

Very rare photo and probably the ONLY one ever taken showing the one-of-a-kind
Phoenix P-1 in it's finished movie livery all ready for filming. It was photographed
at Yuma Intl. Airport in June / July 1965 doing an engine run-up.
Note the painted on exhaust pipe behind the cowl flaps.
Photo: James H. Farmer Collection.

The point of impact as the skids struck the ground causing the
wooden boom section to fail and the front of the aircraft to nose over.
This is a still taken from a film reel shot on the day - the cans
of which still exist in the 20th Century Fox film vaults.

The Phoenix P-1 wreckage at Pilot Knob, Winterhaven,
the T-6 Texan R-1340 engine is in the foreground.
Photo: Ron Stewart Collection.

The one and only Certificate of Airworthiness issued to
the Tallmantz Phoenix P-1 on June 14th, 1965.