These are the notes that appear on the call sheet….
Beware of rattlesnakes.
No touching desert turtles – it is against the law.
Remember sunscreen and protective eyewear.
No walking on runway except with clearance.
An aircraft is being used and it will be flown in close proximity to the crew and equipment. Anyone objecting to the above should notify the prod. mgr. or 1st A.D. prior to any filming.
We’re at Trona airfield 80 miles North of Mojave with a wonderful shiny DC3 built in 1939. The DC3 (or Dakota as it is known in the UK) is one of the sturdiest aircraft ever built. For reasons I cannot explain watching this magnificent machine hurtling towards us down the runway excites and thrills me in a way that stirs something deep and fundamental in my stomach. There is something so proud about this aircraft and one can only wonder the sights it has seen in its 61 years of service. And yet it seems frisky and playful too – not stern or frightening in the way that a warplane might. I’d go so far as to say it?s a work of art. I just wanted to caress its sides and feel every rivet under my fingers. Skip, the owner and pilot, hung large buckets under each engine while it was parked to collect the oil that dripped from its nine cylinder engines and, with its nose tilted towards the sky where it belonged, the Dakota seemed like a big, fine, friendly horse having a bit of nosebag before returning to work.
The body of the plane is made entirely from aluminium and last night we sat in the back on seats which resembled nothing more than a line of moulded tea trays. Skip took us up for a spin with the enthusiasm of a 16 year-old boy driving his first sports car. Vance flew a circuit (!) and then I got to sit in the co-pilot’s seat as we came into land. My father once flew in one of these when he went to join his squadron in Germany. I can’t believe this business: I had an idea last week about a DC3 and three cute girls. This week I get to fly one and they pay me for it!