There’s a Zombie at our Airport!

By Jeff Seaborn, EAA 793688, Chair, EAA Canadian Council

There has been an incredible amount of activity at our airfield these days. Not so much with pilots and aircraft, but with zombies. Seriously! Zombies.

I haven’t seen any yet, but I’m told they’re around and to watch out for them.

Before you think I’ve lost my mind, let me explain.

Netflix is filming at our airfield. They’ve produced a series called Black Summer that’s in its second season. The season finale takes place at a rural airfield. Having never seen the show, I can’t begin to guess how the plot takes them to such a place, but our airfield is the ideal location. It’s rural, yet conveniently close to Calgary. It has hangar space for filming indoors, space for filming outdoors, and it apparently has the right character for a post-apocalyptic zombie film. I’m not sure what that says about us as pilots and aircraft owners out there, but I’ll leave that alone.

Tents and service vehicles are for the film. Derelict vehicles are normal.
A small collection of the crew behind the scenes.

The film crew has taken over many hangars for filming. It’s been interesting to watch the cleanup and construction that’s taken place to prepare for the filming. One open Quonset across the taxi-way from me had years of treasures in it. Some aviation related, some not. The film prep crew removed all those treasures, briefly making the Quonset the cleanest it’s been in decades. Soon after the prep crew emptied it, they filled it back up with props (movie props, not propellers) and other items to set the scene. If I hadn’t watched them remove everything and then replace it all, I wouldn’t know that anything had changed.

Zombies being told the script. Blood on hangar door is not normal.
Abandoned car just beside my hangar.

It’s been interesting to watch the effort that goes into making a production. There have been close to 200 people on the airfield somehow related to the filming. There is constant movement of vehicles and people. With the COVID situation, they are all wearing facemasks. I wonder if the zombies have to wear facemasks. That would be ironic.

Of course, there’s some good-natured teasing between the pilots who are based out there.

Filming cues on the hangar next to mine.

“Hey Dave, I see you’ve been made up to look like a zombie.”

“Yeah Tim, well you don’t need any make-up to look like one…”

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Maybe.

Just a few of the many, many vehicles.

The biggest excitement was the promise of an explosion outside of the previously mentioned Quonset. I wasn’t there to see it, but I received a video clip of it taken on someone’s phone. It was, shall we say, underwhelming. Someone who witnessed it commented that he’s had bigger explosions lighting his barbeque. I guess they’ll use CGI to make it more impressive.

Ka-boom! …Hardly.

The film crew does a lot of waiting, prepping, and rework which I understand is typical for the film industry. Yesterday I pulled my plane out and saw that they were filming a scene across the taxiway. It involved three people running from behind the hangar into another set. Many hours later, when I returned, they were still shooting that scene. The same three actors were still running the same route from behind the same hangar. I’m sure my limited attention span couldn’t handle working in that environment. I was told that a full day’s work results in only a few minutes of actual footage.

Production – Filming is in last hangar on left.

It’s been interesting to watch the process as a bystander. I am vaguely curious to see how the airfield will be portrayed in the film. Never having had the desire to watch a zombie show in the past, I might not understand what’s going on. Maybe I’ll wait until Dave and Tim have watched it so they can recommend the highlights.

Supposed explosion in Foreground. Twin Otter and green screen.

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