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By Hein Kaiser


‘Huge milestone’: SA-designed Pegasus jet in upcoming Brad Pitt movie

Dr Reza Mia met Paramount Pictures’ enquiries with disbelief at first.

The Pegasus jet, designed by Dr Reza Mia, features prominently in a new Brad Pitt film, ‘The Lost City’, scheduled for release in late April.

Paramount pictures chose the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet for the film that stars Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, and Brad Pitt.

It was imagined by Johannesburg-based aesthetic surgeon Dr Reza, who worked with engineers to create the aircraft prototype.

The model can fly and its starring role is likely to attract global attention to South Africa’s technological innovation capability.

Dr Reza funded the development of the aircraft entirely from his medical practice in Houghton.

He said: “We formed an aerospace business to accommodate my passion, and the giant project that it has become.

“We always posted updates online, and one day, out of the blue, Paramount Pictures made contact to enquire about the Pegasus and discuss its potential role in the film.”

At first, Hollywood’s approach was met with disbelief, but he learned that it was real as discussions continued.

It’s a big break for the doctor, his team of engineers, and the dream they’re weaving.

There are model aircraft, prototypes, and aviation showpieces between consulting rooms, the boardroom, and even on a section of the roof in his Houghton-based practice.

Dr Reza’s passion is infectious, and when he is not treating aesthetic patients with the latest anti-ageing technology or consulting on skin challenges, his creativity goes into overdrive, and his mind is on aviation.

It’s easy to see the connection between his day job and his aerospace ambition. The Pegasus is a beautiful-looking aircraft.

Daniel Radcliffe as Abigail Fairfax in The Lost City, with the Pegasus Jet in the background.

Dr Reza has always been fascinated with aviation and his dream was to become a pilot as a youngster.

He said: “When I was a young boy, I went to the airport and I looked up at the Boeing 747 and I thought, ‘wow, I want to become a pilot’.

“Whenever we went on holiday by plane, my true holiday was the time we spent flying. It didn’t matter where we were going, as long as I was in a plane.”

He said flying is the best time to sleep, too, and today he still has a fan next to his bed that imitates jet engines for that reason.

Dr Reza is also finally in the process of completing his private pilot’s licence.

While The Lost City used smaller models and a set-constructed interior, Dr Reza and his team successfully tested a full quarter-scale version of the Pegasus last year.

The project was also ranked in the Top 10 likely urban mobility success stories for the future, as rated by Canadian aerospace giant Abbott Aerospace.

pegasus jet reze brad pitt movie lost city
Aesthetic surgeon and aerospace fanatic Dr Reza Mia with a prototype of his Pegasus jet featured in the upcoming Brad Pitt film The Lost City. Photo: The Citizen/Hein Kaiser

A successful Pegasus project could also mean a two-decade value estimated at more than two trillion dollars (about R29.3 trillion), an internal feasibility study suggested.

Once the Pegasus is operational at scale, his ambition is to fly the machine himself.

The aircraft takes engineering bests from helicopters and marries it with business jet turbine technology.

“You can land and take off vertically, anywhere, like a helicopter could, and forward momentum delivers jet-speed at around 800km per hour with an anticipated range of about six and a half hours.”

The aircraft seats seven people, and a partnership with UK technology company Callen Lenz has seen a unique flight control system developed.

Centurion-based aeronautical engineers Episolon Engineering Services are also part of the project.

Dr Reza plans to showcase the Pegasus in Johannesburg at select malls over the next couple of months to coincide with the film’s release and share the achievement with South Africans.

“This is a huge milestone for SA,” he said.

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