The storm passed in the night and we woke to brilliant blue skies. It was our last day in Nebraska and it looked as though it was going to be a good one. When we arrived at Ainsworth Airport Joe, Ralph and Emily from NET were already there to cover us getting ready, refuelling, planning and eventually lifting. I usually hide behind the camera so it was with some apprehension that I would suddenly become aware of Ralph and Emily closing in on me. I only hope that what they shot proves useful and does not land up on the cutting room floor (I am of an age to remember the good old days of 16mm film).
We put on a fast low flight past Ralph to give him a good going away shot before we headed for our first location some fifty miles away near Mullen. Arrangements had been made through the tourist board and Colin to film some ‘Tanking’, (I’m a convert and will have to come back). Everything worked like a dream, we covered the galvanised tanks loading up with people and then covered them drifting down the river. The weather was great and the river really picturesque. It was a great start to the day.
Two links type golf courses followed where we covered some play but kept well away and tried not to upset the golfers. It was strange to see a links course, usually associated with the sea, in the middle of America. To the east was the man-made Bessey Ranger District – a forest with trees, lots of trees after miles and miles of sand hills. And on a ridge in amongst the pines was the Scott Lookout Tower, keeping a careful watch for any fire.
Heading north we landed again at Ainsworth, as we were low on fuel. By now it was really hot again and we all needed a thirty minute break in an air-conditioned FBO. Rested, we took off towards the west and a series of different size lakes. In order to cover this well we climbed to just under 7,000 feet. From this height it was possible to pan round at least ten of the lakes and then take individual shots. From this height it was possible to see Merrit Reservoir to the west and we slowly descended towards it.
For the next location we merely had to follow the river, which flowed out of the reservoir to the north, and wait until we got to Snake River Falls. The waterfall was an unexpected delight and the canyon they were in was dramatic. In fact we filmed a journey up the canyon, which led us to the Prairie Golf Club. Our next location allowed us to follow the Niobrara River as it wound its way to Valentine. Across the river was an historic trestle metal bridge, which once carried a railroad and now a foot-path on the Cowboy Trail. As no one was around we flew down the path and only when we reached the bridge did we move sideways and drop down to reveal the whole structure. It was a fun shot to do!
We gradually worked our way up the Niobrara River, past people on small round colourful inflatables joined together to look like a flower, only this flower had cool boxes on the center ring. We then had to find the Smith Falls, which was easier than I thought and we saw people on the wooden platform at the base.
We were now approaching our final fuel stop at Valentine and somewhere to rest before our final location at Bowring Ranch, close to the border with South Dakota. Colin had gone on ahead to confirm arrangements for the cattle herding at three o’clock. Just like the tanking it all worked brilliantly and the sight of two cowboys on horseback herding Hereford cows and calves across a green prairie landscape with a backdrop of a piercing blue sky was a sight to truly remember.
It was now only a few miles to the state border and the end of our time in Nebraska. For me there are always mixed emotions at this time as we finish a shoot; happiness because everything has gone well and sadness to leave such a nice place. Even in a short time I have seen a great deal of the state, albeit from the air, and it will leave memories, which can be savoured over time. So thank you Nebraska for welcoming us and showing us what you have to offer. I enjoyed every minute and I hope I have done you justice.
Category: Filming Nebraska from the Air