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Series chases fighter pilots

Reality-based CBS show blends patriotism, flying

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TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Much of an upcoming CBS reality-based series, tentatively titled "American Fighter Pilots," was filmed over an 18-month period at this Florida Panhandle base, where pilots are trained to fly the F-15 Eagle.

A starting date for the series has not yet been determined, but it's expected between late January and the end of March, CBS spokeswoman Nancy Carr said last week from Los Angeles.

Lt. Col. David Freaney, commander of the 1st Fighter Squadron, said the program's timing is perfect because of high interest in the military campaign against terrorism.

"Take a little patriotic spirit, combine that with the rise of reality TV, and throw in some of the best flying scenes that have ever been documented, and you have a can't-lose formula for success," Freaney said.

Freaney was operations officer of the 95th Fighter Squadron when three student pilots who are the focus of the series were in that unit for their F-15 training.

Producers had planned to film only the training, but after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, they decided to follow the three pilots to their next duty assignments.