GenreAdventure, Sci-Fi ProducerMichael Hirsh CountryAustralia
Release date16 January 1986 WriterJohn D. Lamond (screenplay), Rob Mowbray (additional material), Peter Herbert (additional material) CastJohn Hargreaves (Lt.Harris), Max Phipps (Savage), Bill Hunter (O'Reilly), Simon Chilvers (Rev. Mitchell) Similar moviesEscape 2000 (1982), Zone 39 (1996), Starship (1984), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), John Hargreaves appears in Sky Pirates and Long Weekend
Sky Pirates (Also known as Dakota Harris) is a 1986 Australian adventure film written and produced by John D. Lamond, and directed by Colin Eggleston. It was inspired by Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), as well as borrowing liberally from The Philadelphia Experiment (1984), The Deer Hunter (1978), Dirty Harry (1971) and Mad Max (1979).
In 1945, the Second World War is about to come to an end. Meanwhile, the Australian military has come across that an ancient device which can be used to travel through time. It is imperative that the Allies have it and the Axis powers do not.
The experienced aviator Lt. Harris (John Hargreaves) gets assigned to transport the precious item to Washington, D.C.. Rev. Mitchell (Simon Chilvers), Mitchell's lovely daughter Melanie (Meredith Phillips), Gen. Hackett (Alex Scott) and Major Savage (Max Phipps) are aboard the Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport. During the flight the power of the magic cargo makes the laws of nature fade, hereby causing a tremendous tempest which leaves Harris no other choice than to ditch the aircraft.
In rescue boats they discover a weird and misty area full of wrecked ships of different eras. Rev. Mitchell claims there was a connection to the so-called Philadelphia Experiment. Harris remains unimpressed and concentrates on the survival of Melanie and his crew, even for the price of immolating the arcane freight against Savage's explicit orders.
Back home Savage has Harris sentenced for insubordination by a military court. Harris escapes and seeks to unveil the background of these occurrences. He beseeches Rev. Mitchell's daughter Melanie to team up with him. Together they strive to retrieve the lost magic item. They disclose and confound Savage's hidden agenda before they become a happy couple.
Sky Pirates was able to utilize a number of war birds that were found in Australia including CAC Mustangs, Douglas C-47 Skytrain, Grumman Mallard and North American B-25 Mitchell. Principal photography took place in Australia from May to June 1984.
The music in Sky Pirates was composed by Brian May, who also scored the first two Mad Max films. The soundtrack was produced, edited and mastered by Philip Powers four years later as part of his Australian film music archive project, four years later, on the label oneMone Records. Sky Pirates: Original Soundtrack Recording was released on CD in 1989.
Aviation film historian Simon Beck described Sky Pirates as "... influenced by every Spielberg production made up to the mid-'80s."