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The onscreen credits include the following acknowledgment: "This picture produced under the auspices of the motion picture committee cooperating for national defense." The film begins with the following written statement: "We sincerely thank the United States Navy for its aid and cooperation in the production of this motion picture. The picture itself we dedicate to the pioneer flight surgeons of our armed forces, in recognition of their heroic efforts to solve the immensely difficult problems of aviation medicine. To the 'Flight Surgeons' then-whose job it is to keep our fighting pilots in the air."
The film's working title was Beyond the Blue Sky. A December 6, 1940 Daily Variety news item notes that Warner Bros. intended the film to be a vehicle for James Cagney, George Brent and Ronald Reagan. At that time, Lloyd Bacon was to direct. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Background scenes were shot on location at Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola, FL and Honolulu, HI, and many of the dramatic scenes were shot on location at the U.S. Naval Base in San Diego, CA. Scenes were filmed aboard the aircraft carriers U.S.S. Enterprise and U.S.S. Saratoga. Commander J. R. Poppen replaced Lieutenant Commander Charles Brown as technical advisor when he was assigned to the Saratoga. Warner Bros. sent triplicate prints of all stills and other publicity shots to officials of the U.S. Naval Base at San Diego for approval under orders from the Naval Intelligence Bureau.
Flyer Paul Mantz was seriously injured on his way to the San Diego location, and Frank Clark substituted for him during his convalescence. According to an article in New York Times dated June 1, 1941, taking the heavy Technicolor cameras up in airplanes created special technical problems as the planes carrying them had to dive right alongside the squadron. Byron Haskin, the head of the Warner Bros. special effects department, designed special camera mounts that allowed one of the two cameras used to move back and forth. The article adds that the filmmakers were allowed only three days at sea with the Enterprise. Bert Glennon was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Photography (Color). Hollywood Reporter news items note that the San Diego world premiere was held simultaneously in three theaters. For publicity purposes, the U.S. Navy, in cooperation with Warner Bros., placed new Douglas dive bombers on display in principle cities along with recruiting booths promoting navy enlistment. This film marked the first time actors Alexis Smith and Craig Stevens appeared together. They married in 1944.