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Special Effects
The film company also landed at O'Hare Airport, where Baird launched his prisoner transport plane, a sequence which reaches its climax when the plane crashes into a swamp

The film company also landed at O'Hare Airport, where Baird launched his prisoner transport plane, a sequence which reaches its climax when the plane crashes into a swamp. The spectacle demanded the talents of Ahmad and his crew, along with mechanical­effects supervisor MIKE MEINARDUS, visual­effects designer PETER DONEN and stunt coordinator GARY DAVIS.

Production designer Ahmad relates, "The greatest challenge was just fitting this elaborate jigsaw puzzle together. We leased a plane from a Las Vegas casino owner. "We also bought two actual 727­200 fuselages and built another, smaller, set. Finally, there was the miniature plane that Peter Donen shot."

Once the company located its aircraft pieces, the creative team "looked at videotapes and stills of actual plane crashes, to see exactly how a real airplane would break apart," Ahrnad details. "We had to apply some kind of logic to the way the plane was going to break apart and fit that into our storyline."

Peter Donen began filming the model plane crash outside of Los Angeles. Working with a 75­man crew, Donen laid 1200 feet of concrete with a cable running down the middle of a center track. "We powered our 1000­pound model up to 60 miles per hour, using seven cameras to capture the action as it slammed into the miniature replica of our Bay City, Illinois location," he says.

At the same time, director Baird was piecing the elaborate sequence together on location. A fuselage was set into the Ohio River on a metal rig with hollow tubes under it, which pumped either air or water into the tubes to raise and lower the plane. "We had to see the plane sinking as Gerard is trying to get the prisoners out," Baird says.

Once location filming concluded in Southern Illinois, the filmmakers moved indoors to a warehouse on Chicago's Southwest Side, where Ahmad and Meinardus configured the elaborate mechanics needed to duplicate the crash landing and sinking of the jet from the perspective of the plane's interior.

Baird and cinematographer Bartkowiak used special camera mounts inside the plane to capture the frenzy as the fuselage tumbles upside down. Snipes, looking with trepidation over the "post­Aliens contraption," as he dubbed it, braved the water inside the plane exclaiming, "It's an insurance risk. I'm a city boy; I grew up in New York. I can't swim!"

Snipes also encountered another wet set on location in western Tennessee, where the company spent a week at the eerily beautiful bayous of Reelfoot Lake to film the story's first confrontation between Gerard and his fugitive following the plane crash.

Reelfoot Lake, nestled in the northwest corner of Tennessee near the Kentucky border, was also the location for two other memorable Hollywood productions, "Raintree County," starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, and the 1967 Oscar­winner, "In the Heat of the Night," starring Sidney Poitier and Best Actor Rod Steiger. A fishing and hunting mecca, Reelfoot Lake covers over 25,000 acres, with more than 60% being water and wetlands, and is the world's largest fish hatchery.

"Chasing fugitives is not for sissies," jokes co­star Pantoliano. The actor knew he was in for a muggy, buggy ride during his brief sojourn south when he "received a case of bug repellent from the studio with my contract."

Pantoliano, who ha


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