20,000 Men A Year refers to the number of new pilots expected to be turned out annually with a new program that the Civil Aeronautics Agency has authorized certain schools. This film was one of the first of the preparedness films that the studios were starting to turn out though no name of a potential enemy is specified.
To give the film a ring of real aeronautical authenticity it was written by the legendary Frank 'Spig' Wead who certainly captures the love of aviation among the veterans and the eager young kids learning the ropes.
There are three components in the plot of 20,000 Men A Year. The first is the rivalry between by the CAA administrator Preston Foster and veteran flier Randolph Scott. Foster grounds Scott after disobeying orders, in fact I thought Scott used good judgment. The second component is the rivalry, but possible romance developing between Scott and Margaret Lindsay as Scott tries to persuade her to let younger brother George Earnest learn to fly and join the school program he has now become the head of.
Lastly though is a hair raising rescue of some of the principal players in the Grand Canyon. Some really nice aerial sequences are done here. All the elements mix nice to form a nice and entertaining film.
The film seems to have been done a disservice in the editing department. Still 20,000 Men A Year deserves to be better known than it is.