A group of Yale college students from wealthy and priviledged families who form a private air militia to learn to fly in preparation for WWI. The First Yale Unit became the founding squadron of the US Naval Air Reserve. They become the first to fly and the first to die for the US in the Great War.
PLAYING SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2015
About the Filmmaker
Darroch Greer and Ron King
After seeing a photo with his grandfather on the cover of a book called The Millionaires’ Unit, Ron King contacted his old friend Darroch Greer with the idea of a documentary film on the First Yale Unit. Ron and Darroch met in college at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1977. Both were born in the Midwest and raised in California – Ron in Larkspur in the Bay Area, Darroch in Santa Barbara. They both lived in Manhattan as young adults and moved to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. Ron works in video production. Darroch is a documentary filmmaker and writer.
They founded the non-profit Humanus Documentary Films Foundation in 2007 and formed a fund-raising team with Harry Davison, grandson of Yale Unit member Trubee Davison, and his cousin Mike Davison, grandson of both Trubee and WWI naval ace Dave Ingalls.
The seed of the idea was to interview the Yale Unit family members and use archival footage and photographs. However, it became clear they needed to film WW1 planes in flight, and they found replica WW1 planes at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Rhinebeck, NY, at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY, at the Aeroplane Collection in Paso Robles, CA, and at the Vintage Aviator in Masterton, New Zealand where they finally captured the elusive Sopwith Camel with the distinctive, rotary engine on film.
The Millionaires’ Unit tells an intimate, character-driven story set in the historical context of the United States 100 years ago, the birth of naval aviation, and the drama and tragedy of the First World War. It took a million dollars and seven years, but the film is now ready to help commemorate the centennial of World War One.