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I posted this on The Oddball Pilot Network a few weeks ago. People liked the film so much I thought I’d post it here too! – Aidan

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the 333 (an infamous crash pad in Anchorage rented by some old friends). Robert was over in Papua New Guinea flying for Lyndon, Cally had moved out to Bethel to fly for Fish and Wildlife, and the 333 was dark and empty. As usual I was crashing on the sofa and for some reason I couldn’t quite get comfortable … just laying there in the dark, contemplating life, the universe, and everything. The self-contemplation got old pretty quickly, so I went online to see what was going on in the world.

After searching around for some cool-sounding flying jobs I got a chat message from Mike (my Oddball Pilot co-founder) on the Oddball Pilot Network. It had to be 2 AM his time, but I wasn’t surprised. He often gets his best work done in the wee hours of the morning. This time he’d sent me a link to a short film called North Atlantic. The note he sent with the link said something like, “not very realistic but you might like it.” Looking for some entertainment, I clicked Play.

Maybe it was the late hour, or the mosquito that had been buzzing around all night. Maybe it was just a maudlin moment … but this 15 minute film really hit a spot with me. It even felt accurate. Maybe not in a “this is how it went down” way, but in terms of the feel of the event. If you’ve ever read Saint Exupéry (if you’re a pilot and haven’t read Wind Sand and Stars then you’re missing out), you’ll know what I mean.

Like many pilots and climbers (and I’m sure people in many other pursuits as well), there are moments when the outcome of our endeavors are in doubt. What is the thought process when you start to realize that things aren’t looking good? Sitting in a tent with a storm raging outside and flying through a massive thunderstorm over the Indian Ocean in a cropduster are both moments that spring to mind. Often I’m alone in the tent or the plane. It’s strange because I love the alone time. But when it’s looking grim, there seems to be a strong desire to communicate with another person. Not looking for rescue or salvation. Just to say “Here I am, I may not be here for much longer. Tell my friends I’ll be fighting to the end but I’m okay if it doesn’t work out. Sorry guys. Cheers.”

That’s all.

The pilot in the film seems to be reaching for a similar moment. He’s ferrying a Beech 18 across the pond. His navigation systems are out (no GPS in those days) and he’s going to come up short of the Azores. The movie starts with the air traffic control specialist fielding the calm radio call from the plane. No panic. The pilot already knows where he stands and is just reaching out to say adios. It’s based on an actual event, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually went down as the film depicts it.

Dim the lights, plug in your headphones, and watch it in full screen HD if you have the bandwidth. I hope you enjoy watching this great short film as much as we did.

You can learn more about the film at www.northatlanticshortfilm.com

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8 Responses to “Dispatch: North Atlantic – An interesting short film”

  1. Mike says:

    Aiden,

    I like this short video a lot. It may not be all that realistic, but it does strike a chord.

    I’ve been really enjoying listening to the interviews and walkthroughs on the site. As an aspiring oddball pilot, it’s really nice to have a little bit of a clearer picture as to what I can expect.

    I’m planning a move to Alaska in January/February, which doesn’t seem to be the best time for pilot hiring, but I wanted to be there before the late winter/early spring hiring begins. As a low-time guy, It seems like the way to go would be a company like Era or Grant out in Bethel, but I think Anchorage looks like a better place to live.

    I’ve been pestering all of the Bethel companies for awhile now, and the only one that has responded is Grant. It looks like a trip to Anchorage/Bethel is my best bet. What would you do if you were in my shoes? I’m very serious about moving up to Anchorage, but I need to stretch those dollars and maximize my chances, and flights aren’t cheap.

    • Connor says:

      Mike and Aiden,

      I just wanted to tag on to this post to say that I have almost identical plans as you, Mike. I’ve wanted to go to Alaska since High School (years ago). I worked in the rat race here in the Bay Area for a couple of years, hated it, quit my job and I just finished up my commercial and instrument ratings out in Kansas (great little outfit called Prairie Air Service for anyone looking for a unique training experience). I’m finding that looking for a job in aviation this time of year (October) with low hours is proving quite the challenge, but I too would like to just get up to Alaska first, then find a job while I’m there (even on the ramp!)

      Anyway, I’m just looking for some more guidance in this situation as well. Everyone else wants to just get their CFI, gain hours, then get into an airline and that’s never been what I’ve wanted to do. I’m so glad there are other pilots out there like me! Maybe I’ll meet up with you, Mike, in Alaska somewhere, haha.

      Cheers.

      • Mike says:

        Well, here I am. Made it up to Bethel with a job at the local flight school. Bunch of great people here, and I’m having a great time. Good luck with your journey, Connor. This place is pretty wild.

  2. Matt F. says:

    Here’s to hoping we can all be at that level of peace when that time comes. It’s good to see an oddball of the film world can invoke more thought and emotion than most multi- million dollar Hollywood products.

    On a separate note, looks like I’ve got a new book to add to my reading list.

    Thanks guys,
    Matt

  3. DALE LONG says:

    Appreciated the thoughtfulness of the players. Accepting fate can be cool.

    Made a trip across that puddle in a Chieftain twin 17 years ago. Kind of lonely through the night. Nice to pick up some heavy traffic for a few comments now and again as they zipped overhead. The movie brought back memories. Thank you for sharing.

    Right rudder!
    Dale

  4. Brian says:

    I was wondering if anyone was able to find more of the back story on this incident? I tried the email addresses from the movie’s website but they were no longer in service… Thanks if anyone has seen anything!
    BA

  5. Cynthia says:

    They call me “Mother Hen” and every time the guys cross the pond on our behalf I am sleepless until I know they are back on the ground again. There was something stunningly beautiful about this film that I think only an aviator can understand. Guys (and gals) be safe out there and remember someone is always waiting for you on the other side; where ever that might be… Don’t be afraid you are a professional, enjoy the ride, and know somethings are just simply out of our hands.

  6. Paul E Coyne says:

    Enjoyed the film…it also brought back my own experiences…..3 years ago I also “did the Atlantic crossing” I was sent an email requesting I flew a Cessna 172S Garmin 1000? Never heard of them…….from St Johns to Jeddah, Saudia Arabia, my first thought was who is this from…….no one that knew me…….my second thought was”this looks like dangerous fun” so I replied and then started to find out what a Garmin 1000 was…….to shorten the experience……I did the crossing at 5000 feet, because he could not get me an HF Radio….so had to do it VFR……making blind calls to Gander Radio 2 hrs out of St Johns, an oil rig Radio Officer Frank….. called me on to relay and asked for my email to “see if I make it alright!!” the next call was from An Air France jet…on 121,5 that briefly said ” Call Santa Maria” that sparked me to reply immediately……as I was still over 4hrs away and too low to pick them up………he never replied…….Bastard!!
    If I had been in trouble he could have helped me a lot….I used to fly up at 40.000 feet in Boeing 747´s and have relayed many times for these ferry pilots……..and at 50 feet over the North Sea in Helicopters so the water never bothered me…….those people who thought I was” Mental” doing the trip I say to them…” Charles Lindberg did it…….the aircraft does not know it is over the Ocean” my last leg from Malta to Jeddah took 16,10 minutes and I arrived with 2 hrs left of fuel, Job Done!! Piece of Cake!!
    Cheers……Paul

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