Xfinity helps older veterans fly fighter jets again in short film by Kathryn Bigelow

‘The Aviators’ reunites real veterans and production crew to show how technology can help relive the past

Published On
Apr 29, 2024
Aircraft field

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A real squadron of U.S. Navy aviators relive the past in a heartwarming short film from Xfinity and Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

Filmed last October and launched Monday (April 29) for Military Appreciation Month, “The Aviators” tells the story of a grandfather reminiscing of his time as a U.S. Navy seaman flying an A-4 Skyhawk jet. Flashing scenes between his past and present, the veteran seaman tells his granddaughter about his stories as he anticipates a reunion with his fellow Navy veterans.

Directed by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”), the tales inspire the granddaughter to surprise her grandfather and his friends with VR headsets to help them fly again—using Xfinity internet. 


The campaign comes as Xfinity has been recognized as one of the leading employers of veterans in the country. In 2022, parent company Comcast NBCUniversal was recognized as the nation’s No. 1 telecommunications company for veterans. The company has also hired more than 21,000 veterans and National Guard and reserve service members, as well as military spouses, since 2015, gathering more than 9,000 employees in its Veterans Network employee resource group.  

The film was inspired by a moment Jim Elliott, executive creative director at GS&P, witnessed between with his two sons and his 90-year-old father-in-law when they showed him, a former Air Force pilot, how to fly again with virtual reality.

“Besides our veterans’ reunion, there’s another connection story happening here between a young girl and her grandfather. This experience brings them closer together as well,” Elliott said. “The truth is, these sorts of miraculous, intergenerational moments of connection are happening every day across the country, thanks to Xfinity.” 


To create the campaign, Comcast NBCUniversal and GS&P gathered a group of real Vietnam War veterans who flew the jets featured in the film. Former Navy commander Jack Gillett (call sign: “Razor”), former Navy lieutenant Jim Lloyd (call sign: “Zeke”) and former Navy lieutenant Bill Moir (call sign: “Offender”) flew together as members of the Gunslingers squadron on the USS Saratoga.

The film shoot was their first in-person reunion in 16 years. The trio were joined by another veteran, Elester Latham (call sign: “Hollywood”), a former major in the Air Force.


Another reunion orchestrated during the campaign was that of director Bigelow and two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer DP Greig Fraser, also known for his work on “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Dune,” “The Batman,” “Lion” and more. They also reconnected with three-time Oscar-winning sound designer Paul N.J. Ottosson (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Fury”), with music from two-time Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer (“Dune,” “The Lion King” and more).

“It’s a real honor to work with our nation’s veterans,” Bigelow said in a behind-the-scenes documentary about the project on YouTube. “They’re special people, who’ve devoted their lives to our security. I feel like it’s my opportunity to give back.”


In addition to the film, Comcast is launching a new military benefits program for discounts, as well as donating $1 million to nonprofits serving the military community and working toward digital equity for this group.

Among those receiving grants are: NPower, Our Community, the Wounded Warrior Project, Hesperus and United Service Organizations (USO). 

“We’re a proud military-ready company that honors and celebrates what those who serve, those who’ve served, and their loved ones have done to defend the freedoms we enjoy,” said Mona Dexter, VP of military and veteran affairs at Comcast, a military spouse for over 25 years and a military mother. “Reunions like the kind depicted in the film represent the life-long devotion veterans have toward one another. It’s our company’s privilege to play a part in how these incredible men and women stay connected through technology.”

In addition to the three-minute film, shorter versions will air on broadcast, along with behind-the-scenes films for Xfinity’s social channels.