Bizarre Adventures of a Cameraman and a Drunken Pilot..
August 14, 2011 by
As a Cameraman with many hours of shooting from all types of aircraft, particularly helicopters, one comes to rely completely on the flying skills of the man at the controls..He has your life in his hands.
Some years ago I was employed to shoot a commercial in the Highlands of Scotland, in the Glen Coe and Aviemore areas. Rough mountain country.
The evening before the shoot, the crew, who had been assembled from all over the British Isles congregated at a rather comfortable hotel near Fort William, it was a get together evening and the hospitality, as usual, was extremely lavish. This was a high profile product we were going to immortalize over the next few hours….
The bar did a roaring trade as we introduced ourselves and then after a couple of hours of drinking we trouped through to the grand dining room which we took over somewhat, with the drink still flowing, mainly because it was free, at least being paid for by the client.
The meal was excellent and the party continued into the early hours,
There were a number of staff from the client’s office present and they were hell bent on having a great time.
The man opposite me, a rather chubby, ebullient Scot, was appallingly drunk, so much so that he fell of his chair a couple of times. I got drunk and as is my usual habit I sought the comfort of my bedroom, what a sad person I was, but there was a very early start scheduled and it was a heavy shooting schedule.
The following morning, early, a rather shambolic crew gathered at a field adjacent to the hotel to start rigging the helicopter mount.
The mount was rigged in about twenty minutes and we waited for the arrival of the Pilot..
I know you are slightly ahead of me on this one..
Yep…It was the very jolly/drunken Scot from the previous evening. He arrived and still reeked of booze, but he put on a brave face and was enthusiastic about all of the flight patterns we had to shoot.
All aboard and off we went.
I have no idea what the top speed of a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter is but it is rather unnerving to approach the top of a peak at zero level at that speed , so close to the top that some grass hit my feet as we went over.
This Pilot was as drunk as a skunk and he never seemed to sober up all day . He seemed determined to display his phenomenal flying skills, which mainly consisted of seeing how close he could bring us all to an untimely end .It was one of the most frightening flying days of my life and one I shall never forget. We clipped the top of every peak n the Glen Coe area and then did a nice trim job on some of the trees in the Aviemore ski resort.
I have no recollection of the shot list, just remember being aware of how close we were to immovable objects at terminal speed.
Miraculously we eventually finished filming and I could unstrap myself from the harness. It was now late evening and the shooting was over. The Pilot was in roaring form and desperately keen to hit the bar again.
The following day I had arranged to shoot a commercial in London, some 600 miles south so I set off in my car as the crew retired for another night of total debauchery…lucky dogs I thought.
A few hours later I was passing through the sleepy little Scottish town of Lockerbie, completely unaware that some madman was about to blow a Jumbo Jet apart and kill over 270 people in just a few minutes time..
Some days you never forget.
Thiis was originally posted on www.Reelshowint.com