Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jetcopters Part 2

Working weekends really helped with the commuting problem, but as a rule the flight activity was pretty slow.  On occasion I did get called in on my days off and so there was some disadvantage to having days off during the week.  Once I got to the airport, I really didn't mind.  I don't think I ever got tired of flying and if I was scheduled to do a flight, I had no problem working the extra days and flight hours.  We had one big long building that had nothing but Jetranger and Longranger helicopters hangared there.  When you rolled the hangar doors open, it looked like a rainbow of helicopters.  All brand new aircraft and always equipped with the latest and best equipment.  Jetcopters was very involved in both the movie and television business.  So many of the pilots were getting a chance to fly for these companies. 

Jim Deeth was involved with  John Carpenter making a movie called Starman.  He was the Aerial Coordinator and one part of the movie was going to involve several helicopters and pilots. Vietnam era Huey's, Jetrangers and Longrangers.  One scene was a large formation of helicopters making a low level flight over the desert.  This was shot near Winslow, AZ.  Also several shots would be taken at the Meteor crater in the same location.  Several of Jetcopters helicopters and pilots were being used and Jim had contracted several other operators from around the country to be used in the film.  A few days before this was to take place, we flew into the Winslow, AZ airport where the movie crews prepared the helicopters to look like Army aircraft.  They masked off the windows of the helicopter and then sprayed on a rubberized peel paint in Army colors.  Then added decals for the insignias and markings to make them look like military aircraft.  When the shoot was finished, they  put the helicopters on a wash rack and  sprayed the peel paint off with a high pressure water hose.  If for any reason there was any damage to the paint, the movie company would repaint the aircraft.  The technology was pretty advanced for this application and repainting the helicopters was not done very often.

Civilian helicopters used in the movie Starman click to enlarge

This was really going to be my first experience being directly involved in an actual movie.  We were a large group of pilots and we spent nearly a week doing this part of the movie.  It was fun being out on location, doing the wardrobe thing and watching the making of a movie first hand.  I had met John Carpenter earlier before working for Jetcopters, so I was comfortable with working with movie people.  Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen were the two principal actors and were both very friendly to work with.  Finally, this was going to enable me to become a member of the Screen Actors Guild.  I was now qualified and just needed to fill out the application forms and pay a membership fee.  This was one of the first things I did when we returned to Los Angeles a few weeks later.

At the end of the shoot at this location, Jim asked me to fly the camera helicopter a Bell BH-206L3 to the Scottsdale, AZ airport where it would receive a 50 hour maintenance inspection.  They could complete this inspection in one day and the next day, I ferried the helicopter to Nashville, TN.  I made one overnight stay in Dallas, TX before going on to Nashville the next day.  more on Jetcopters in the next post.........

No comments:

Post a Comment