For more information please contact: (310) 500-0271 : Cameron Mitchell Productions :

Flight Path to NASA: A Pilot's Journey TRT 58:41

Original Feature Documentary - Cameron Mitchell Productions

80 Second Promo
3 Minute Promo

Full Movie

FLIGHT PATH TO NASA: A Pilot's Journey follows the exciting career of NASA test pilot Donald Mallick. Beginning from his Navy fighter pilot days, the film's hero finds himself quickly involved with some of the world's top testing programs at Dryden Flight Research Center / NASA/ Edwards Air Force Base. There he flies some of the most important supersonic jets in history before being promoted to be lead test pilot on one of NASA's most important projects: the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV). Don's flight testing of the LLRV set the path for Neil Armstrong and other astronauts to learn how to land on the moon and contributed to one of the most significant events in modern history: landing the first man on the moon on July 20th, 1969.


This documentary taps into the growing interest in space and exploration. As many countries expand their space programs and NASA begins launching manned missions from the USA again this documentary will appeal to those interested in the history of technical innovation in spaceflight and how engineers and test pilots work together to find solutions that move NASA's mission into the future for the benefit of mankind. While highlighting the journey of one man's quest and the dangers he overcame throughout his career we learn about what it takes to push the limits of aeronautical testing and human endurance.


The film's audience includes those who love and appreciate space travel and exploration, including supersonic plane flights, rockets, the Apollo program and modern space stations, as well as fans of NASA, Apollo 13, people who are interested in flight technology, SPACEX, Blue Horizon, Virgin Galactic, Space Force, Virgin Galactic. Also people who are interested in true human stories of perseverance and dedication to craft: fans of History, Military, Aerospace genres.

Donald L. Mallick started his aeronautics research pilot career in 1957. Don began flying modified helicopters and jets for NACA (National Advisory Council for Aeronautics). He then moved on to NASA's Dryden flight research center and became involved in a wide variety of projects that pushed the boundaries of aerospace technology, including the giant delta winged XB70 research plan, the wingless M2F1 lifting body and the triple-sonic YF-12 blackbird for a total of 125 aircraft.

Mallick also test flew the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) that helped develop techniques used in training astronauts to land on the moon.

Donald retired in 1987 as a deputy chief of the aircraft operations division at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. During his distinguished career Mallick logged over 11,000 flight hours in more than 125 different types of aircraft. He is a fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

One of Don's favorite planes to fly was the world-record breaking, top secret YF12 Blackbird. This plane could fly over 80,000 ft high (near the edge of space) and exceeded speeds of mach 3 (over 2200mph)

One of Don's most significant projects was his work testing the oddly-shaped LLRV (Lunar Landing Research vehicle). This training craft allowed astronauts to simulate the reduced gravity and approach angles necessary for a successful lunar landing. When Neil Armstrong first tested this type of vehicle the machine went out of control, resulting in a forced ejection and near fatal accident. Nevertheless, the astronauts appreciated the opportunity to practice landing conditions before reaching the moon and credited the LLRV in making Apollo 11 a resounding success.

Director's Note:

The origin of this film began with my work on the popular PBS show "California Gold" with Huell Howser. One of our episodes filmed on location at NASA's Neil Armstrong Flight Research Center at the Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave desert. During this shoot I got to meet test pilot Don Malick for the first time, and I was extremely impressed by his life's work and contributions to NASA history- and surprised by how little known the LLRV program was. I immediately felt like these amazing hard working test pilots and the incredible vehicles they helped developed deserved a story of their own, and that these unsung heroes should be recognized for their vital contributions to NASA's lunar missions. From this point I began a longer conversation with Don that evolved into a fascinating retelling of not just of his life story, but the story of America's Space Program direct from someone who lived it.

All systems are a go!

Emmy-award winning producer Cameron Mitchell began his career in love with the field of photography. Cameron earned a degree in film and television production at Columbia College and quickly worked his way up as a camera assistant on Hollywood feature films. Cameron then began shooting for some of the most prestigious television productions in the world, including large broadcast events such as the Oscars, Grammy's and Golden Globes. Cameron has also worked as the lead cinematographer on international travel shows, music concerts, docu-series and more. Cameron shot 8 seasons of the highly rated television show Huell Howser's "California Gold" on PBS and currently produces and directs the PBS travel show "Walkin' California". His past documentaries have won numerous film festival awards. When not creating television Cameron loves to escape to the great outdoors.

BEHIND THE SCENES: Director Cameron Mitchell and Don chat before an interview

"It was a great honor to film Don's story and share his legacy with the world. Don's family served in the armed forces for three generations and Don continued to give back through his service as a Navy fighter pilot as well as a NASA test pilot, braving dangerous conditions to help advance NASA's ongoing mission of space exploration and development of new technology for the benefit of all mankind. I hope Don's legacy inspires future generations to make their own mark on the world"

-Cameron Mitchell, Director


For more information please contact: (310) 500-0271 : Cameron Mitchell Productions :