Shooting Out of Small Planes
Small planes are a lot cheaper than helicopters and can make many more scenic
shots for the same money. If your shots are pretty much straight moves you might
consider this option.
I've shot out of Cessna 180's, and 206's, 207's, 208's, with cargo doors, Helioporters,
and a Grumman Goose. With seats removed, the Cessnas with cargo doors are OK
in smooth air. Some require a "spoiler" attached to the front door hinges to
deflect some of the air from inside the plane. (Tie down everything that could
blow out.) Being high wing they have a fairly clear area to shoot out of. Making
a "horse" out of Speed Rail with a ball mount for a ball head works well if
pulled down tightly against the seat/cargo tie down rails. There are special
cargo tie downs for these rails. If not available make your own out of modified
aluminum angle 1/8" x 2" cut to 1/4" on the other angle. Drill a 3/8" hole and
bolt a "S" hook between the two sides. Close the eyes of the "S" hook so it
can't release the bolt or tension strap. You can sit cross-legged under the
Tie your self in with enough slack to look ahead to see where you want to go
and when to turn on camera. An intercom is helpful. Have magazines, meters and
batteries handy. A wood tray for magazines is worthwhile.
You can swing a camera out the rear with very wide angles seeing the horizon
under the tail. I will not describe how as YOU need the knowledge and proper
FAA clearance for any rigs that is made like this. My rig swung out to shoot
and in to load and travel. Shots can be reversed in postproduction for a forward
move. A polascreen is handy. If you put a camera in the slipstream, make sure
everything is very well attached.
The best plane to shoot out of is a Helioporter with a 50-foot wing span. I
shot another plane with a 50 to 500 mm lens from this plane. The seat rails
are different from the Cessna and you need custom tie downs. I made them on
a mill with a keyway cutter. This plane costs more to rent, but will fly at
about 30 mph. It has a minivan type sliding side door.
If you have to shoot out of the front passenger window, many Cessna high wing
windows will open in flight. Look at "The Horse Collar" for one type of stabilization.
A Kenyon Gyro will help for small cameras. If working at altitude, be prepared
for difficult reloading in the cold. Have warm clothes and thin gloves. Carry
some overnight stuff if you don't return home and venture into new areas.
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.