Flyboy: David Ellison Takes Off
In his new film, the actor-pilot gets to combine his two loves.
- By airspacemag.com
- Air & Space magazine, November 2006
(Page 2 of 3)
A&S: How often did you fly in the film?
Ellison: It was semi-limited for insurance purposes. We flew three days and shot 12 hours a day. The camera shot us 25 minutes at a time. There were multiple flights each day, and we squeezed as much flying in as possible.
A&S: What's your favorite airplane to fly?
Ellison: I fly a Cap 232, and it's my favorite. I flew it here [to Oshkosh] in 2003 as part of Stars of Tomorrow. I've been here three times. The first time I was a 13-year-old kid running up and asking Sean Tucker for his autograph, and I didn't know anybody. The second time, Wayne had started teaching me aerobatics, and I actually came here with Sean and Mike Williams for Stars of Tomorrow. And now I'm here with the movie.
A&S: How involved did your father [Oracle CEO Larry Ellison] get with aviation?
Ellison: We started flying on the same day. He's got over 1,000 hours, he's checked out in the Pilatus PC-7, and he's type-rated in the Cessna CJ-3. Basically, once he got his license, we would both fly down to Salinas, he'd do touch-and-gos in the Cessna CJ-1, and I would do touch-and-gos in the Katana—and then later in a Lancair 360. We'd shoot touch-and-gos all day long. Have lunch. Do it again. As I got older and got into aerobatics, [my dad would do] touch-and-gos, I'd go to Wayne [for an aerobatic lesson], come back, and then we'd meet for lunch.
A&S: Are you doing aerobatics now?
Ellison: I've been flying aerobatics since I was 14. I soloed on my 16th birthday. I've flown a bunch of airshows, a competition in an Unlimited, and I flew at Nationals.
A&S: Do you think you want to act or focus on flying? What's your favorite hobby?
Ellison: It's hard to say what my favorite is. For a career I'd really want to act and make movies, and keep flying as much as I can. If I can act and fly, I'll be happy.
A&S: How did you think the flying in Flyboys looked on the big screen?
Ellison: I was really, really happy with the way it came out. [At the preview screening at Oshkosh] I was actually a little nervous because I knew how critical everyone would be—because they knew what they were looking at. We got a standing ovation last night, and Bob Hoover stood up and said it was the most inspiring aviation movie he's ever seen. To have that from a hero of mine was "it."
A&S: If you had a dream project, what would it be?
Ellison: My dream project is…a movie that takes place in the world of aerobatics. I really don't think that we've seen a good aerobatic movie that shows that side of flying and how involved it is. You come to places like Oshkosh and people see how good these guys are and the kind of discipline that goes into it. It's an intense sport, but you've never seen that onscreen. It's something I fell in love with as a little kid, and to be able to combine both of those would really be my dream project. It's really difficult [to make a movie about flying]. If Flyboys does really well, it'll revive the genre. I'm hoping for that.
A&S: What are some of your favorite old aviation films?
Ellison: I've seen The Great Waldo Pepper, Blue Max, Dark Blue World, Hell's Angels, all of those. I actually think I went and watched every single aviation movie before this movie came up.