Alternate Universe airshow

By Phil Plait | June 23, 2010 10:00 am

Via SciFiWire comes this amazing series pictures from the SciFi Airshow. This is seriously cool geeky stuff.


Sigh. Beautiful. The gifted artist Bill George has created a huge series of pictures depicting real-life scenes with some of the best science fiction spaceships of all time. I suspect most of you out there haven’t even heard of the old scifi series "Space:1999" — it had a profound impact on my young self, and it spawned one of the most beautiful ships of all time: the Eagle. George has created a whole passel of Eagle images, and they’re spectacular! He even has several hi-res versions you can download.

scifiairshow_hawkHe has shots of ships from "Battlestar Galactica", "2001", "Land of the Giants" (who remembers that show?), and "Star Trek". These are truly amazing photos he’s put together, and if you’re of a certain age I expect your heart will pang with what could’ve been.

I hope he puts out a lot more of these. My heart races when I watch rocket launches and space activity IRL, but it was these shows that excited and inspired me as a kid… and still do as a grownup. We need to dream, and seeing these dreams made real — even if only in Photoshop — is still compelling.

Related posts:

Freakin’ sweet!
Happy Breakaway Day!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Geekery, Pretty pictures, SciFi, TV/Movies

Comments (56)


    Phil Plait:

    …, “Land of the Giants” (who remembers that show?),…

    *Slowly raises hand*

  2. Ever heard of a diorama? If you can’t see “real” in it you have no imagination.

    Cool photoshops though. Very talented.

  3. Stan9FOS

    I had the model of the “LOTG” spaceship, as well as the PAN AM version (!) of the 2001 shuttle and the flying sub from VTTBOTS. Until they obliterated each other in the Great Space Battle of 1974 or so. Not sure of the year, my memory’s a little fuzzy, but it was covered pretty thoroughly by all the news broadcasts…

  4. Michael

    Not sure what was from ‘Land of the Giants’ – the Flying Sub was definitely from ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’, and from the name, I’m guessing the Spindrift was as well…

  5. Mount

    That was awesome, the captions were great too! I recently had the privilege of working on the B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” when it was in Denver the other week. It’s one of only about 12 still flying. That was a wonderful experience, but imagine going to an air/space show that features the last flying SpaceShipTwo or some other such craft!

  6. Stan9FOS

    Saw “Aluminum Overcast” in Atlanta, got the t-shirt. Ain’t she pretty?

  7. QuietDesperation

    I would totally hijack an Eagle. I still have one of the old Dinky metal miniatures along with an Interceptor from the show UFO.

  8. Pi-needles

    I suspect most of you out there haven’t even heard of the old scifi series “Space:1999”

    I have. 😉

    Although I have to say that show’s basic premise is *really* silly.

    Plus the Orion craft – isn’t that the one Obama cancelled which was part of the Constellation program or am I getting my SF mixed up here? 😉

    Seriously – awesome idea & graphics. :-)

  9. Jackie

    I loved “Space:1999” and remember “Land of the Giants.” Does that date me? 😀

  10. Pi-needles

    @ Jackie ^ : Yes! 😉

    But that’s okay – I’m dated too. 😉

  11. Boomer

    These images remind me of a book I have: Spacecraft, 2000-2100 A.D.: Terran Trade Authority Handbook. This was one of my sci-fi inspirations as a kid!

  12. Mike


    Orion is being kept alive as a lifeboat for the ISS.

  13. Blondin

    I remember the ‘Orion’ being called the Pan Am Clipper (even had the Aurora plastic model).

  14. Jon

    I had a ‘Space 1999’ lunchbox.

    I’m old.


  15. juryjone

    These are awesome, and I remember all the shows. But I reserve a special place in my heart for those Irwin Allen shows. The Flying Sub from “Voyage” and the Spindrift from “LotG” are, while unwieldy, great. I gotta ask, though – where’s the Jupiter II?

  16. Philip from Australia

    Heck, not only do I remember Land of the Giants, I remember the Pod from Lost in Space being in a couple of episodes of Land of the Giants.

  17. Zombie

    Space: 1999 ship designs were so epic… When I was a kid I got a papercraft kit of an Eagle that was something like 3 feet long, out of preprinted cardstock with the girders etc built out of paper straws. That thing was amazing.

  18. Jim Eubanks

    I remember Space 1999. I loved it. I had a die-cast Eagle that I sadly lost in Hurricane Ivan. I still have the soundtrack music. I collected the Hallmark space ship ornaments for years. Science fiction has done a wonderful job of spurring our imaginations with the excitement and mystery of space, using these wonderful space ships to carry us to the stars.

  19. @ Boomer:

    I have that book, too. Great art that really fueled the imagination!

  20. This is a fantastic project – really a lot of fun. I, too, suffered the sci-fi drought of the early 70s, though have very fond memories of the hardware from Space: 1999 and Thunderbirds. Maybe TB2 will make an airshow appearance someday. :-)

    I’m intrigued by the techniques he used for these. Since George is a 30 year vet of ILM and a modeler, I’m guessing these are scale models he built and comped into the live scenes. The lense distortion & lighting are just too realistic compared to CG, where the difference is usually noticeable.

    Kudos for such a fun idea. When is he going to add an X-Wing and a y-Wing?

  21. bigjohn756

    I am an old fart. Does anyone remember Tom Corbett and the Space Cadets? I listened to it on the radio and watched it on TV. (Does anyone remember real radio shows?)

    My question is: are there any full size models of any of these space vehicles or do they exist only in computer memory and small models?

  22. Space 1999 was awesome… when I was 7. Saw every show as a kid! Had one of the big Eagle ships with little commander Koenig, Alan, and Helen. Ah, those were the days…

  23. jcm

    I’n pretty sure this will make the geek/nerd horde drool.

  24. Bob


    While you and I would probably disagree on just about anything not related to science, I have to agree wholeheartedly that the Eagle is one of the coolest sci-fi ship designs EVER!

    And even watching the show as a kid, I have to say that, in contrast to other sci-fi shows, actually looked like a ship that could really fly.

    Great pictures. I have found some new desktop wallpapers!

  25. Elmar_M

    Awesome models!
    Love all of them. I had model kits of the Orion and the Space1999 the Hawk as a kid.
    I still own a rather crude model of the Space 1999 Eagle (Estes rocket kit).
    Really nice renderings and good comps!
    I made a Space 1999 Eagle for the LW8.0 content, but that was not as nicely textured and detailed as that one (was quite a few years ago though)

  26. Amazing pictures! And yes! who can forget those terrific shows! And certainly, Space: 1999 was one of the most memorable shows ever! For me, the original Battlestar Galactica was my preffered show, and then certainly, Space 1999.

    The Eagle was a remarkable space ship.

    Oh boy! Am I that old?

  27. Chief

    re: bigjohn756

    You can find most of the history of model productions at this site

    The site sells some that are still in production. I remember most of the stuff from the late 50’s onward. there are even models from radio and scifi books. Love the rocket from Space Cadets.

    Do you think we can all get together and get the ban on nuclear propulsion in space repealed and build an eagle. Contact Burt Rutan.

  28. John Paradox

    Oh, man, I have got to get my stuff out of storage. I had the Spindrift, Pan Am Clipper (Orion Clipper), Moon Base Alpha, the original Enterprise TOS (the one with the lights in the ‘warp modules’), and even some models from the Japanese Space Ninja/Sword of the Space Ark and Message From Space. Oh, both the Eagle and Hawk from Space:1999. Come to think of it, I can’t even say that I know all the models I had/have (some are pretty damaged), though I did start work on the original Battlestar Galactica – I was going to drill small holes and insert some lights to give the ‘windows’ that were visible.
    [first, I need to get some of the old computers/accessories that decided to stop working, and finish storing/shelving my books and magazines]

  29. gss_000

    @8 + @12

    There are actually two Orion. There’s the one you both mention, the one that’s part of Constellation (whose test module was just completed with the longest ever friction weld, a relatively new techniques so go space pushing engineering) and there was the conceptual spaceship powered by a series of nuclear bombs exploding behind the craft.

  30. KSK

    I had the lunchbox, I had the Eagle playset, I had two Eagle minis (by Dinky Toys, bought in England), and I have the DVDs.

    And this is awesome. And I. Am. Old.

  31. @Quiet D:
    I had a GREEN interceptor from UFO!

  32. The Voice of Reason

    Oh Boy! Space 1999 was one of the best Sci-Fri programs of it time, I too, had the cast metal Eagle, was it made by Dinky Toys- anyone?

  33. Brian Too

    All good stuff.

    Here’s an esoteric one for you. Did anyone ever see “Starlost”? Great concept, fantastic ship, terrible acting. Keir Dullea showed us what he was capable of (awful!).

  34. This pales in comparison to San Francisco’s annual Imperial Fleet Week:

  35. @33 – Yeah, “Starlost”! I remember being in love with the concept (guy wanders from module to module on giant space ark, where each compartment has different civilizations), but the show was awful. I can’t believe no one has re-booted it for tv – it would be a good vehicle for exploring modern cultural and social issues.

    Continuing the Hall of 70s Sci-Fi Shame I thrilled/suffered through:

    Moonbase 3
    Salvage 1
    Project UFO

  36. Chief

    Apparently Ellison asked not to be associated with starlost due to the bad scripts. Unfortunately it was another show that 5 mins into watching you said to yourself, hey is this a Canadian production. In the mid 70’s studios didn’t put any money into things new and they suffered for it. Even though the Starlost was supposed to be the most expensive Canadian scifi production at the time. Sure it was campy but it could have had a good run if allowed. btw. I think that one of the rumors was that the domes were recycled into/out of, silent running.

  37. The Mutt

    Land of the Giants was teh awesome! When you are a little kid, watching guys climb household furniture using thread and safety pins is the kind of thing that can send your imagination soaring.

    Also: Time Tunnel.

  38. I feel sorry for those poor cows affected by the “Buckinghamshire crash.”

  39. magetoo

    This is the greatest thing I have seen, ever.

    Harold: They don’t seem very impressed, though.

  40. bela okmyx

    How about one of the Interceptors, or Sky 1 from SkyDiver? Heck, I’d just settle for Straker’s car.

  41. John Paradox

    STARLOST. Never saw the original (after all, it was Canadian), but recently found episodes 1-3 online ( have to download a ‘player’). I have somewhere Ellison’s original script along with his complaints about the actual series (thus the “Cordwainer Bird” credits).

    Oh, other things I’ve found, there was not only the Gerry Anderson series Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Fireball XL-5 (had lunchbox), and Captain Scarlet, but also a New Captain Scarlet (done as CGI or ‘Hypermarionation’).

    Here’s a trivia challenge, there was a short lived ‘Victorian England’ based series that ran in the early 80’s, with Sam Waterston as a Scientist (American) in England… title: Q.E.D.
    I’d been looking for it since it aired, and finally it appeared on YouTube on imstillstuckinthe80s channel.

  42. JupiterIsBig

    I LOVE the Safety Card from the Spindrift on that site. Being someone who flies a lot, I’ve printed it out and as I fly across Oz tomorrow I’m going to check for giant Cats and mice before I open the exit in the unlikely event of an emergency.
    I used to watch every episode of Dr Who, Blake’s Seven, Lost in Space, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Space 1999, Star Trek, BattleStar, Galactica, G-Force, etc, etc.

    And my son keeps asking “when are you going to finish the Eagle Transporter flying model rocket that’s in the attic ?” …. sigh … I guess after I get a round tuit ….

    Thanks again so much for your website Dr Phil !

  43. Grand Lunar

    Pretty cool!

    Wonder if he’ll include the Tardis? Or is that locked up at Area 51?

  44. I remember seeing a local t.v. interview with Kurt Kaznar about how he’d had a 20+ years career in the theater, and all people remembered him for was that damned Commander Fitzhugh from Land of the Giants, which he’d only done for two seasons. It really annoyed him, and I can’t say that I blame him.

  45. Pi-needles

    @ 29. gss_000 Says:

    @8 + @12 There are actually two Orion. There’s the one you both mention, the one that’s part of Constellation (whose test module was just completed with the longest ever friction weld, a relatively new techniques so go space pushing engineering) and there was the conceptual spaceship powered by a series of nuclear bombs exploding behind the craft. [link deleted to avoid moderating delay.]

    *Facepalm* Of course! How could I forget – that was one awesome design. Wonder if we’ll ever build anything like it for real? I’d love to see that happen. :-)

    @ 12. Mike Says:

    Orion is being kept alive as a lifeboat for the ISS.

    That’s right – forgot that aspect too. THX.

    @ 13. Blondin Says:

    I remember the ‘Orion’ being called the Pan Am Clipper (even had the Aurora plastic model).

    It was? Neat. I never knew that & thought they were totally different craft. When was that?

  46. drow

    awesome. they’d never get me to leave.

  47. Julie E

    We take Space: 1999 very seriously in our household. My husband’s going to the Space: 1999 con next month in Austin. All kinds of fun.

  48. 14. Jon Says: “I had a ‘Space 1999′ lunchbox.
    I’m old.”

    If you still had it, you’d also be rich.

    – Jack

  49. @21. bigjohn756 Says: I am an old fart. Does anyone remember Tom Corbett and the Space Cadets? I listened to it on the radio and watched it on TV.”

    John – Check out There’s a full 30 page chapter covering “Space Cadet,” “Space Patrol,” “Captain Video” and “Rocky Jones” along with analyses of their ships.

    BTW, BA blog readers can get 15% off of anything they buy on the site by entering “BABR” into the discount code box.

    @29. gss_000 Says: “There are actually two Orion. There’s the one that’s part of Constellation…and there was the conceptual spaceship powered by a series of nuclear bombs exploding behind the craft.”

    ARA Press has a book in development that should be the definitive story of the Orion project. We hope to get it out while Freeman Dyson (lead physicist) is still with us.

    – Jack

  50. I was 10 when I saw Space1999 for the first time, and I became crazy of this series, making Eagles and moonbases with Lego. Last April, I found a very accurate 12″ metal model of Eagle at low price in Singapore. It’s strange to see the series again, with their pyjamas and CRT screens. A lot of souvenirs…

  51. Iris Caldor

    Where is Serenity?
    I want my money back.

  52. MichaelL @ #31 – Dinky were notorious for inaccurate colours: my SHADO Interceptor, SHADO Mobile and Eagle Transporter were all lovingly rendered in green (actually rather suited the Mobile). Hilariously, my Thunderbird 2 (which should have been green) was painted sky blue! Does anyone else remember Dinky’s Century 21 armoured car, “inspired by Gerry Anderson”, that shot sparks from its radiator grill?

    BTW that website is all kinds of awesome.

  53. Jefferson

    Awesome! I had this toy spacecraft from Space: 1999 as a kid.

  54. christian e.g.

    i saw the “war games” episode of space 1999 when it first aired in 75-76. i liked the single-engine hawk gunships. The paradigm was their technological similarities AND dissimilarities to their larger, slower sister ships, the eagles. Unlike the mainly cargo-and passenger eagle, the hawk seemed built for combat. The dorsal-side-only version of the eagle’s pilot windows suggested a fightercraft style cockpit for a pilot and gunner only. The devastating underside particle cannon was the only weapon depicted as used by the hawks in the episode. Made me wonder how much worse the attack would have been if the hawks had used those EFAMS-mounted rocket pods. But then i realized later that it WAS fiction after all:)


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