Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Filmmaker Meets Harrison Ford, Aviaton's Elite; Film Wins Multiple Awards

Breaking Through The Clouds Documentary Wins Multiple Awards; Filmmaker Meets Harrison Ford & Aviation's Elite
Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby won the David Ponce Award for Best Documentary of the Festival at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in Chagrin Falls, Ohio on October 13th, 2011.  The film won Best Documentary DMV at the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza in Washington, D.C. on October 23rd, 2011.    
In addition, Executive Producer Heather Taylor of Columbia, Maryland is the recipient of the prestigious Combs Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF).   Presenting Taylor with a check for $20,000 at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 11th, 2011 was actor and pilot, Harrison Ford along with aviation's elite.
HF & Hat
Harrison Ford with Heather Taylor
Photo Courtesy of NBAA
Pictured below is Taylor accepting the award from NAHF President Phil Roberts; Air Show and Legendary Pilot Bob Hoover; Business Aviation Pioneer and Aerial Cinematographer Clay Lacy; Actor & Pilot Harrison Ford; Producer Heather Taylor; Show Legend Sean D. Tucker; FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt; Apollo XVII Astronaut (and last man to walk on the moon) Capt. Gene Cernan; and Thunderbird Pilot (ret) Gen. Lloyd "Fig" Newton.  
Taylor said in her acceptance speech "I never imagined that following the dreams of twenty pioneering women in aviation's history would lead to my meeting the quintessential aviation legends of today" (speech available on youtube and Taylor's website).    
Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby will be screening Sunday, October 30th at 4:30pm in Greenbelt, Maryland as part of the Utopia Film Festival:    
Taylor receiving Combs Gates Award from Aviation's elite
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Sykes/Pro Pilot Magazine
Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby is the inspiring true story of 20 women who raced across America in 1929. With just a compass and a road map to guide them, Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, Phoebe Omlie, Pancho Barnes and 16 additional brave female pilots defied convention by taking to the skies and racing across the country to prove that flying was a safe mode of transportation and show that women could indeed, fly.

Taylor, who has worked 13 years to bring the film to fruition said, "facing cultural stereotypes, mechanical failures, navigational challenges, threats of sabotage and endless chicken dinners, the women persevered and became pioneering legends in aviation. Their story is inspiring to anyone who has the courage to follow their own dreams."  
Wearing breeches and goggles in the day and ball gowns in the evening, the pilots challenged stereotypes by proving women could be independent, competitive, self-sufficient, intelligent, competent, graceful and above all, really good pilots. This story has largely been ignored until now. The documentary Breaking Through The Clouds captures the women's personalities and portrays the drama of the race, stressing the importance the derby made for women, aviation and the country as a whole.

Expertly researched, beautifully shot and edited, and filled with never before seen footage from the actual derby, Breaking Through The Clouds is a character driven documentary showing the trials and tribulations the women endured as they took off in Santa Monica, California and raced towards the finish line in Cleveland, Ohio. Aerial recreations in vibrantly colored planes like the ones the women flew in the derby put the viewer in the pilot's seat.

Family members and friends of the pilots tell personal stories of the pilots throughout the film, adding an emotional edge to the film. National Aerobatic Champion PATTY WAGSTAFF,  aerobatic pilot JULIE CLARK, aviation historians, including Dorothy Cochrane, Curator of the National Air & Space Museum, round out the interviews giving perspective of the women's amazing accomplishment. In addition, legendary pilot ELINOR SMITH SULLIVAN, in her last on-camera interview, describes some of the women in the derby and what it was like to fly in 1929.

Pat Thaden Webb, daughter of original racer Louise Thaden, said, "I'm so appreciative of how you portrayed my mother Louise Thaden's beautiful soul, and her determination and courage to be a great pilot, and what flying and flight meant to her. She, and the other 19 pilots who flew this first race, earned their right, and the right for all women, to be able to participate in the development of aviation. Your film is a real tribute to my mother and to the others, and I'm forever grateful that their forgotten story has come to the screen for all to see."

Additional awards for Breaking Through The Clouds include an Award of Excellence from The Indie Fest, a finalist for the competitive International Documentary Association (IDA) Award and the official selection of eleven film festivals to date.  Visit for a full listing as well as more information and additional testimonies.     
Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby is available on DVD at      

BTTC New DVD Cover
*Note to Editors: High-resolution photograph and press material available in the press section at or by contacting

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