- Rigging and Execution -
For the sequences involving the XF-11, H-1 and Hell's Angels German Bomber, we built a series of fuselage bucks in the exact shape of the planes to be used in the green screen process shots. This enabled the Visual Effects Department to set up for the green screen sequences with accurate super-imposing of the aircraft involved.
These interior shots were accomplished by constructing cockpit mock-ups for the XF-11, H-1 and Hercules (Spruce Goose) mounted on a multi-axis gimbaled system actuated by hydraulics and pneumatics with all movements controlled by computer. With the Hercules we built a large platform with gimbals, augmented with special vibrating motors and high-pressure pneumatics to create the violent shaking and bumping prior to lift off in the culminating shot over the water. Additionally, our Prop Shop Foreman, Isidoro Raponi, built all functional cockpit gauges and switches for each of the three prominent aircraft. The Hercules alone required over 160 functional gauges.
H-1 RACER CRASH:
The plane was dropped into the field by use of two industrial crane jibs from which was rigged a complex cable support system holding the aircraft in place. The drop was activated by trip release mechanism at the tail hook-up and the fall controlled by a bow shaped cable system that brought the plane into the field safely. We also installed special sleds to the undercarriage of the plane to facilitate the belly flop and run through the produce field. The plane was pulled by an endless cable ratchet system for a distance of 1,000 feet with a decelerating braking system bringing the plane to a stop without incident or injury to Leonardo DiCaprio, who performed this stunt himself. The flying produce during the run through the beet field was accomplished by installing two 24-inch blades under the forward section of the wings that sliced through the field causing the produce to fly over the wings.