Indy’s Matte Boat

Of course everyone’s favourite archaeologist, Indiana Jones, travels in a flying boat. In this case in the first film, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. But how?


Here’s a web page covering a ‘then and now’ of the Short Solent Mk.III that stood in for the extinct Pan Am Boeing 314. It’s the survivor at the Oakland Aviation Museum, California, and as a post World War Two flying boat it’s anachronistic for the film’s pre-war time period, but the concept is appropriate enough. And if you’re going to call anachronisms on Indy…

How was it done? Revealed on this blog, it’s a ‘Matte Painting’, the history here. (One of the most famous matte paintings ever is the shot of the warehouse where the Arc of the Covenant is being wheeled into at the end of the Indy film by Michael Pangrazio at Industrial Light & Magic.) In the case of the flying boat, all the background, and the pier are a single artwork around the flying boat and with live water in the foreground.


The BOAC markings were replaced by Pan American (it seems actually in the matte painting, not on the aircraft!) and a few other changes – notably the beaching gear leg is hidden by a bollard, the whole combining to a convincing, brief scene outlined here. Very definitely ‘illustration’, ‘art’ and ‘design, in a moment of aviation.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

A ‘PS’ is that since the film was made, a full size forward fuselage mockup of a Boeing 314 has been created at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, Ireland.

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