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 3 of 3)
A&S: Were there hairy moments on the set?
Ellison: Back then [when they were filming aviation films in the 1930s and 1940s], they were pushing the airplanes as hard as possible. [But if you're] doing that for a movie, it's not safe, it's dangerous. Computer-generated imagery [CGI] allowed us to show realistically what the dogfights were like in the old airplanes.
A&S: Did you learn a lot about aviation from studying the antique aircraft on the set?
Ellison: The first time I ever sat in an old airplane I sat in a Javier at a place in Paso Robles called Antique Aero. Chuck Wentworth runs it. My best friend and I flew the Paso Robles aerobatic competition. Chuck invited us over, and he had a completely restored Fokker triplane in the hangar. Actually had the rotary engine and the fabric. I sat in the airplane and was like "You've got to be kidding me."
A&S: What other collections have you visited in the U.S.?
Ellison: I've been to the Smithsonian a few times in [Washington] D.C. I've been to EAA AirVenture museum. I donated Wayne's Raven [aerobatic] airplane to the Evergreen Aviation museum [in Oregon]. I've visited the Museum of Flight in San Diego as well. And the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, my hometown.
A&S: Most of you were pretty inexperienced actors. What was that like?
Ellison: Filming took three months. It was lots of fun. We were kind of like a squadron, everyone became best friends. We were isolated an hour, hour and a half north of London. We hit it off right off the bat.
A&S: Do you think flying is popular among young people today?
Ellison: I started flying aerobatics when I was 14. I didn't meet anyone my age that was flying until I was 17. Now you look around and there are so many more young aerobatic pilots. The Stars of Tomorrow are a big part of that—everyone is under 30.
I just love Oshkosh because I've been here three times, and each time it's been kind of like a milestone in my life. The first time I was 13 and really enthusiastic about flying. After the show, I was like "I have to do this." The second time I came back and actually flew. Two of the highlights of my life happened to me at this year's show: Saturday, me and my best buds flew [an aerobatic show as part of ] the Stars of Tomorrow. Those were the best aerobatic flights of our lives. Everyone in the audience was clapping and gave us a standing ovation. We jumped on the wings [after landing] and it was awesome. And then to show the movie Flyboys and get a standing ovation was amazing too.