UND in the Spotlight


David L. Dodds

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UND in the Spotlight

Lights, camera, action!

A Japanese television drama that was filmed on location at The University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences and many other spots on the UND campus last month premiered this week in Japan and online, giving the school prime-time exposure in the land of the Rising Sun and beyond.

Fuji TV, a Japanese production company, wrapped up filming for the television drama titled Miss Pilot in late September, and now, according to the company's promotional information, the show was scheduled to air on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

UND Aerospace has gotten used to being in the limelight recently but usually as the focus of national and international news outlets interested in its emerging unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), never as the primary location for a major television production company.

The month of September changed that when the Japanese film crew chose UND's Aerospace program as the subject for three episodes of Miss Pilot. The story follows the lives of six students going through the flight training program at UND in pursuit of their pilot licenses. Much like a U.S. film, the Japanese production features friendship, drama and romance.

The show features high-profile Japanese actresses and actors, people who couldn't step a foot out their door without be hounded for autographs but who enjoyed almost complete anonymity during their stay in Grand Forks. The main actress in the series is Maki Horikita. She has starred in numerous movies, TV shows and dramas. The producer compared her to the caliber of actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Kristen Stewart in America.

Since the majority of the filming was done on campus, some lucky UND students were chosen to be extras in the film. Also, familiar UND/Grand Forks landmarks are featured throughout the film. Scenes were filmed at the terminal of Grand Forks International Airport, UND Flight Operations at the airport, Ralph Engelstad Arena, Ryan and Clifford Hall, the High Altitude Chamber in Odegard Hall, a fraternity house, the Toasted Frog restaurant and the Canad Inn.

Fuji TV hired extras from the Grand Forks community, including the UND students, and the company paid two UND aviation student groups to escort them on the airport grounds, which is a Transportation Security Administration Requirement.

The pilot for Miss Pilot follows:

Haru Tezuka's (Maki Horikita) parents run a bar in Kamata, Tokyo. She is honest and bright, but she can't lie which sometimes causes her to get in trouble. Haru finds it difficult to get a job.

Haru then notices an application guideline from airline company ANA (All Nippon Airways). Haru, who never thought of working in the airline industry, decides to take a test for the airline company. She first attends a company presentation by ANA. There, she sees elite persons who have dreamed of becoming pilots for lengthy periods of time and airplane enthusiasts. She becomes overwhelmed by them. Haru is indecisive about whether she wants to go through with it, but she manages to barely pass her test. Now, Haru wants to become a pilot, but what awaits her is harsh training.

Kate Menzies University & Public Affairs student writer

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