In the 1990 film "Awakenings", the main character Leonard awakens after suffering from a catatonic illness for 30 years.

There's a scene where Leonard watches a 747 landing in New York at JFK. This is considered to be an anachronism/continuity error in the film, as the film takes place in the summer of 1969 and the 747 didn't enter revenue service with Pan Am until early 1970.

However, I know that the prototype 747 first flew in late 1968, and my guess is that by the summer of 1969 several aircraft had been produced, and flight testing was ongoing.

My question is if there's any 'plausibly deniable' way Leonard, in the world of this "based on a true story" yet finally fictional movie, could have actually spotted a non-revenue service test flight 747 landing at JFK in the summer of 1969?

I'm more wondering along the lines of if I were transported back in time to the summer of 1969 and hung around JFK, did pre-revenue 747s ever land there? Or did all testing prior to its introduction with Pan Am occur in controlled environments where it wouldn't be observable by the public?


1 Answer 1


Nope. It wasn't filmed during testing.

When Dr. Sayer takes Leonard out into the city for the first time, they see (among other things) an aircraft landing - a Boeing 747. The movie takes place in 1969 and the first revenue flight of the Boeing 747 was January 21st, 1970. Additionally, the 747 is in El Al livery that was used around 1990 (IMDb).

enter image description here
(airliners.net) Photo date: October 27, 1991.

Could the 747 have been filmed while landing at JFK in the summer of 1969?

It's plausible, because during the flight testing the 747 flew to Paris and it could have very well used JFK (runways were upgraded in the late 60s):

[Boeing took] a test aircraft to the 28th Paris Air Show in mid-1969, where it was displayed to the public for the first time (Wikipedia).


[JFK] was designed for aircraft up to 300,000-pound (140,000 kg) gross weight and had to be modified in the late 1960s to accommodate Boeing 747s (Wikipedia).


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .