With the administrative support of Maryland Public Television (MPT), independent film company Spirit Productions has developed
The Misty Experiment for national public television release in 2016. The documentary reveals the largely unknown story of a remarkable squadron of U.S. Air Force pilots who volunteered for a top-secret mission--one of the most innovative and dangerous air missions of that War: With refreshingly eager human aptitude and skill applied to decades-old military procedures, these young Forward Air Controllers (FACs) flew fast and low over
deadly installations of Communist-supplied anti-aircraft artillery in daily efforts to locate enemy supply-and-weapon transports moving southward through the network of footpaths and roads known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail…to stop or slow the North Vietnamese Army's invasion of Saigon, South Vietnam.
Misty's equally risky mission was to locate downed aircrew members in North Vietnam
and Laos and act as on-scene commanders until rescue forces arrived.
Click here to view a four-minute video teaser.
The mission's official name was Operation Commando Sabre because of its bold deployment of supersonic jet aircraft. Yet the unit became better known by its radio
call sign, "Misty."
The documentary’s content is presented through first-person accounts by Misty veterans, and does not center on any single individual’s deeds or point-of-view. Each ‘generation’ that came into Commando Sabre between 1967 and 1970 worked together as a team, and their combined testimonies will offer television viewers a humanistic view of a controversial conflict that's been riddled with public animosity and debate for half-a-century.
The project's primary goal is to bring renewed awareness to contemporary audiences about the contributions and sacrifices the Misty pilots gave to their country and to American aviation history.
As North Vietnamese air defenses strengthened, greater casualties to American aircraft followed, steadily diminishing U.S. air effectiveness in the skies over Vietnam. It became imperative for Air Force strategists to implement a new method of air-reconnaissance and search-and-rescue efforts over the country’s heavily-defended landscape.
Despite their triumphs at finding, identifying and directing strikes on targets where other methods had failed, the Mistys’ successes came at a high price: The unit suffered the second highest loss-rate of the War—with 23% of their airmen shot down, captured or imprisoned, and/or ultimately declared missing or killed in action.
Yet the innovative tactics developed by the Mistys for their visual reconnaissance, strike control, and search-and-rescue missions formed the foundation for FAC operations later employed during Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts--and remain valid today.