The History Museum’s new local military history documentary premiers Sept. 27

The History Museum is hosting a premier viewing of their new documentary, “Thunder under the Big Sky” on Sept. 27.

The 58-minute film chronicles military history in northcentral Montana including the ferrying of warplanes from Gore Hill and what is now Malmstrom Air Force Base to Fairbanks, Alaska where they were then handed off to Russian pilots to use in the fight against Germany in World War II.

The documentary also covers the construction of the Great Falls Army Air Base, which is now Malmstrom, where B-17 pilots were trained and flew maneuvers before departing to fly missions over North Africa, Italy and Germany; the Great Falls training of Berlin Airlift pilots in 1948-49; the inception of the Montana Air National Guard in 1947 and the construction of missile sites before and after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

“We think of wheat and grazing cattle in north central Montana—but it is what secretly flew overhead and the missiles underneath the ground that dominated the economy that drives the region, and really is the history that few ever knew took place,” according to Jim Meinert, museum director and co-executive producer of the film.

Using old film and pictures from the History Museum, the U.S. Air Force and the Montana National Guard along with first person interviews, “Thunder under the Big Sky,” is another in a series of informative and entertaining documentaries about the largely unknown history of the people of Montana. The History Museum with award winning documentary filmmaker Craig Wirth brings this amazing story to television.

The film will be made available to Montana PBS, Meinert said.

The premier is Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Ozark Performance Room at The History Museum and admission is free.