Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mojave Airport

Dear Reader

It is a cold windy morning at the Mojave Airport, just east of Hwy 14, in the town of Mojave. Our site representative is leading us on a one-lane dirt road. The high beans reveal the twist and turns of the road, I am the last vehicle in the caravan, I make a sharp left turn, and then I position my motor home next to the other vehicles. I drop the jacks, and then I let the slide-outs out.

Mojave airport is not the usual airport, there are no gates or ticket booths, it is just one huge runway with lots of parked planes. There are a number of private hangers, repair facilities and a fuel station. The Mojave airport is a place that the airlines store their old planes in a mothball state. It is also a place that is used for many car shoots, commercials and feature films. Take that scene in the movie “Speed”, when Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock try to escape from that out of control bus. The bus hits a cargo plane and blows up; it is suppose to be LAX, one problem, LAX does not have mountains from the west, there is a little lake called the Pacific Ocean. The closest mountains are north east of Los Angeles about forty miles. Though the Producers would have love to shoot that shot at LAX, the FAA said “no”. A little movie magic and the Mojave Airport is the perfect substitute.

We were shooting a commercial for a big Japanese car company. It was a two day shoot, the first day it was just a couple of people to set up the shot, so they did not need me, the second day they really needed me, the airport was hit with gale force winds. Anything that was not tied down flew to Barstow eighty miles away. This was typical weather for late spring, cool and windy. There are numerous helicopter pads on the airbase, with various views; to the west are the Tahippi Mountains, a favorite with producers. The movie “Water World” was shot at the airport, they bought in a huge water tank and blue screen, add a little movie magic and you would think they are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

As the day wore on, the winds increased, the crew came into my motor home to access the Internet, and watch the latest news updates. I kept the coffee and tea brewing all day long. Our caterer had his own motor home and he kept the crew very happy.

The town of Mojave is several miles away, with plenty of lodging, dump stations and affordable restaurants, for any size crew. One is not going to find any high end dining in Mojave, but you will find a Starbucks. Mojave is located about two and half hours from Los Angeles, if one is tempted to speed on highway 14, think twice, even in the early hours the CHP patrols the road, looking for speeders and drunk drivers.

The Mojave Airport is the perfect location for your next shoot.