Last week, the Weather Channel launched a new aviation reality show called "Plane Xtreme" and Oddball pilot blogger Aidan Loehr is pretty excited about it.
The series, according to the Weather Channel, is described as an adventure show that chronicles the escapades of "an elite group of pilots who deliver small aircraft to points across the globe."
According to Loehr, who discloses he's a skeptic of reality TV, the show may actually be entertaining. At any rate, it certainly does not disappoint.
Loehor is most excited by the appearance of real-life coworkers, pilots Dave and Steve. He says Wings of Eagles, an "outfit" he's delivered planes for in the past, is featured as one of the "elite" pilot groups:
Despite my aversion to reality TV, I watched both episodes Monday night to see how closely the production conformed to reality. For the most part I was pleasantly surprised. All the events they portrayed really did happen (not always the case with reality TV), and they got the personalities of the players down pretty well.
Steve and Dave in particular were well presented. Steve really is up at all hours checking weather for his pilots, and Dave does have serious reservations about leaving his wife and daughter. The episode with him getting to St. Johns and having doubts really happened as shown. (Of course, they left out that it was the film crew’s emphasis on the danger of the flight that started the erosion of his confidence … normally Dave completes the flights he starts.)
The other flights seemed to be pretty standard fare for ferry flying. Weather is always a factor regardless of the flying you’re doing. Thunderstorms are a pretty common occurrence on many of the routes we fly. For the most part they aren’t a huge problem.
I think one of the greatest challenges for ferry pilots is the lack of current charts (or any charts for that matter). Also, a lack of local knowledge is tough when you get close to your destination. Local pilots get pissed when you miss common reporting points or botch the standard radio calls. It’s also nice to know where that hill is that everyone flies into. GPS with moving maps has helped a lot with this problem.
I worked with the film crew a little bit over the summer and I didn’t like the emphasis on the dangerous aspects of the job. I suppose that’s show biz for you for you: drama sells. Luckily, The Weather Channel has less interest in drama then some of the other channels, and I have high hopes that this show will stay closer to the truth than most of the “reality” TV shows out there. The first two episodes seem to support my hopes in this regard.
The most fun working with the crew was shooting the air-to-air shots, flying in formation with Dave on the leading edge of a pretty impressive thunderstorm. That was fun. The helicopter pilot flying the camera ship actually got nervous at one point and requested that we fly a little looser formation. Just when we were having so much fun …
Does "ferry flying" interest you? If you’re interested in seeing what it's all about, Plane Xtreme is a good place to start. The first two episodes of the show aired on The Weather Channel Monday, Oct. 15, but they will repeat again Friday night at 9:00 and 9:30 p.m.
Plane Xtreme will regularly air on Mondays at 9 p.m. with repeats on Fridays. Check your local listings or the the Weather Channel (here) to be sure. Loehr is scheduled to appear in next weeks episode “Double Delivery.” He and another pilot are followed as they deliver two caravans to Nairobi. Don't miss it!
To learn more about the show, and watch previews, on the Plane Xtreme section of Weather.com.
The Weather Channel is also airing a bunch of other Oddball flying aviation shows too, including Coast Guard Alaska, Coast Guard Florida, Hawaii Air Rescue, Hurricane Hunters, and Ice Pilots. Look for reviews in the near future!
And for more info on Loehr check out Oddball's blog here.