Oct 5, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Sept. 27, a Canadian film crew wrapped up the second of two segments filmed at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) highlighting depot-level maintenance on a P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol aircraft, one of two owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Discovery Channel Canada is producing a series entitled Mighty Planes featuring six aircraft with one program devoted to NOAA’s two Hurricane Hunters, both Lockheed WP-3D Orion turboprop planes used for hurricane research and reconnaissance missions.
The series is scheduled to air in the spring of 2013.
Nadine Pequeneza, the Orion’s episode director, said coordination among the production studio, NOAA and other agencies was much like conducting a “well-orchestrated symphony” with its many working parts.
“We flew into Hurricane Leslie, a two-day mission with three shots,” said Pequeneza of her flights on Sept. 7 and 8. “I was on ‘Kermit’ flown by a female pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Cathy Martin. There were also meteorologists, mechanics and technicians onboard. I was intrigued by the plane’s capabilities to fly into the eye of a hurricane. David (Johns), the director of photography, filmed on the G-IV (Gulfstream IV-SP jet).”
NOAA’s two P-3 aircraft are named Kermit and Miss Piggy after two of Jim Henson’s famous Muppet characters. NOAA pilots also fly the G-IV, a high altitude, high speed, twin turbofan jet aircraft that augments the Orion’s low altitude data with upper atmospheric soundings and meteorological data according to the NOAA website.
The crew also filmed in Miami at the National Hurricane Center and the NOAA National Research Center, and at NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. where the P-3s and G-IV are home based.
While taping at FRCSE Sept. 26 and 27, Pequeneza said she was highly impressed with the artisan’s knowledge and skill level.
“I’ve never seen a plane taken apart like that,” she said. It’s very intricate. The mechanics were showing us all the rivet holes and how each one has to line up. They showed us lightning strikes they were repairing on Miss Piggy. There were four or five, and you could see them very clearly. It’s quite incredible.”
Pequeneza also shot footage at FRCSE with Navy Cmdr. Dervin Brakob, the NOAA maintenance officer, Wes Couch, the crew chief responsible for Kermit's maintenance, and Clinton Batten, a business management specialist and P-3 program manager from July 2010 to August 2012, who escorted the crew while filming at the military depot.
Batten said the aircraft is at the facility for 6-year maintenance, a plan that includes scheduled depot-level maintenance and repairs, Zone 5 wing plank inspection and repairs, as well as wing center section removal and replacement.
Earlier in September an advance film crew arrived at FRCSE to begin taping footage for the maintenance segment of the episode. Canadian Herrie ten Cate directed the taping during the first visit, which was overseen by Michael Ellis, the shoot’s director of photography.
The Mighty Planes series is featuring not only the WP-3D Orion but also five other aircraft including the Navy’s Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet; NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the world's largest airborne astronomical observatory; business magnate Donald Trump’s private $100 million jet, a tricked out Boeing 757; The Omega Air KDC-10 refueling tanker; and the Boeing C-17 Globemaster, an enormous military transport aircraft.
FRCSE Public Affairs