Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flying High In Palo Alto

Last week the cast of Tongue of a Bird (minus 1), the director (Lessa Bouchard), and I took a field trip! Since the show revolves around an aerial search and rescue story we thought it would be neat to shoot photos of the actors inside and around Cessna airplanes. So we headed to the Palo Alto Airport where the nice folks at the West Valley Flying Club offered to let us inside some planes and walk around the tarmac for the shoot.

Now, I don't know much about anything when it comes to planes, but I do like things that are shiny, and things with cool buttons and dials and levers, so this was kind of awesome.

The first plane we shot with was a Cessna 150. It's a tiny little two-seat plane that's largely used for training. When I say small, I mean that I'm 5' 3" and I had to duck so as not to hit my head on the wing of the plane. It's practically pocket sized - the Kristin Chenowith of airplanes. I wanted to take it home with me. And frankly, it was really kind of pretty. Look at its nose.

And the instrument panel? Totally cool.

It looks even better with a fly-girl in the pilot's seat.

Kateri Rose

Next up was the Cessna 172 - this plane was a bit bigger. It's a four-seat plane with a surprisingly decent amount of room in it. This is hands down the most popular light plane in history - models of this plane have been in production since the late 1950s. Here is a shot of two of the ladies in the Cessna 172.

Kateri Rose and Leah Kolchinsky

We got some other great cast shots and you can see them in our photo album here.

While the ladies were getting into costumes and makeup and getting set up, I wandered with the camera to see what was happening. I got to watch someone getting a plane ready for take off.

It wasn't nearly as loud as I thought it would be. And you know, while I understand the physics of flight - the principles of lift, thrust, drag and all that jazz (I was raised by a high school physics teacher so physics is the only science class I ever worked hard enough to get As in) - watching that tiny little plane take off was still kind of like watching magic.

In any case, we got some cool photos (my random scenic shots can be seen in full here) and had a great time. Huge thanks to Gianni and Ashley at West Valley Flying for setting this up for us. They do offer flying lessons and the rates were surprisingly cheap (honey, I have a birthday coming up...) so if you've ever wanted to learn, give them a call. They're really nice, even to dumb girls with cameras.

See you at the show!


  1. If you want to meet some real-life search & rescue pilots, try visiting the local Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Squadron at Palo Alto Airport. CAP does more than 90% of all inland SAR missions in the USA. Alternatively, the Cal Air National Guard's 129th at Moffett occasionally hosts visitors.

  2. Very cool Alice! I'll look into this!