Flying|June - July 2020
Ben Younger

I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, this past winter to direct a TV series about Evel Knievel’s life. The script has some fun aviation moments in it. In the 1970s, Knievel had a pair of matching Learjets. We were re-creating his livery on the exteriors of two older—but still working—medevac Lears. We were going to shoot another scene inside a Beechcraft King Air. The plan was to pull it to-and-fro on the ramp at Atlantic Aviation at KABQ to simulate taxiing. As the director, I’m typically the guy who marshals the people who have all the answers. On this production, I really enjoyed being the one with all the answers to the crew’s multiple questions about regulations, such as who could legally remove a seat inside the King Air. Had we actually shot a frame, this would have been my first experience combining my love of aviation with my day job.

It wasn’t meant to be. Like my grandma used to say, “If you want to see God laugh, make plans.” It all went out the window with a virus. The production was indefinitely postponed on the afternoon of March 12. Instead of shooting a biopic, I am hunkered down in a house in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque, stocking up on beans and pasta (but not toilet paper—my paranoia has limits). Now, my thoughts are more focused on food and safety: two things I took for granted prior to COVID-19. Making a TV show about someone who consciously taunted death feels ironic at best. The idea of making a TV show at all seems frivolous at this moment in time.

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