With a screenplay by Delmer Daves, "Young America Flies" is a pleasant, enjoyable short film regarding civilian aviation training at Stanford University. The film focuses on four students with very different personalities and goals. Jim (Herbert Anderson, uncredited) is a friendly, willing student hoping to gain a seat in the U.S. Air Force. Bill (William Lundigan) is also a very serious, hardworking student, hoping to be a commercial pilot along with his lovely fiancée Jane (Jean Parker). Jack (William Orr) is like many young people we've met: a brash, cocky know-it-all who feels that the rules do not apply to him. Their flight instructor (Donald Woods) is a very likable man who can be a tough taskmaster but who has complete confidence in his students.
My favorite sequences in this short occur about halfway through when the students take their very first solo flights, as well as during the last couple of minutes when they take their final flight tests in front of a civil aeronautics inspector (Frank Wilcox). In both of these scenes, while each student is up in the air, all the other students somewhat nervously watch from below, reacting favorably when a student performs well, and even finding time to trade witty lines with their superiors.
"Young America Flies" is a fine two-reeler short, but I have to admit that I believe it might be misleading in one respect. I imagine that in real life, flight instructors and civil aeronautics inspectors are not as easygoing as the ones we see in this film.
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