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PLANES

Embracing the Heartland
According to Hall, "Disney's Planes" is set somewhere in the Midwest. "Dusty's an agricultural plane," says the director. "We wanted to create his hometown in a rural part of the United States."

They learned that the Midwest offered a wealth of aviation knowledge in addition to the right setting for Dusty's hometown, so Hall and the team set out on a series of research trips, visiting several areas in the heartland, including:

  • Ohio -- Filmmakers visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force, where they saw the historic Memphis Belle in mid-restoration, John F. Kennedy's Air Force One and a MiG-25 Foxbat fighter jet. They attended the Dayton Air Show, where they met surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. They also flew in a 40-year-old Huey helicopter and hung out with the USAF Thunderbirds. Says writer Jeff Howard, "At one point we got a chance to fly in a B25, which is a WWII bomber. They had a P-51 fly escort. Dayton was a really great trip."
  • North Dakota -- Several members of the production team went to the Fargo Air Museum and saw a restored F4U Corsair on display. They talked with a retired U.S. Navy pilot who flew a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber in 1944-1945. The experience proved valuable in the development of Skipper, the seasoned Navy vet that helps train Dusty.
  • Minnesota -- Filmmakers hit nine regional airports and air fields. Says Howard, "We were talking to a guy who said, 'If you're looking for a real rural airport, you've got to go find this airstrip -- it's not even on the map.' So we drove out to Leaders Clear Lake Airport, which was like a tiny airplane graveyard with a bunch of airplanes in various states of disassembly." The small air field was surrounded by cornfields, which housed a number of old crop dusters and fuel trucks. The location proved to be perfect reference for Propwash Junction's rural backdrop and weathered buildings. "We found an old fuel truck tucked in some overgrowth next to a cornfield that was actually an inspiration for our fuel truck Chug," says Hall.

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