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Approach, Landing and Demise of the Beaver


The De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver used for the movie was never intended to be crashed; however, the producers were compelled to incorporate the crash into the movie and its plot.

The aircraft was leased to Agamemnon Films by owner Al Beaulieu. In the film, you can clearly see that the Beaver is descending at a high sink rate with an excessive forward speed component. The flare is too shallow and forward speed is too great as the Beaver's left float contacts first and the water's drag action slows the left float quickly as the right float just makes contact; then the plane hooks to the left, causes a side-load on the right float, which lifts the left side of the plane, hooks it to the right, then the right side lifts. The left wing impacts the water and its spar breaks as the plane then ends up on its nose, then falls on its back and begins to sink. Beaulieu was, of course, not happy.

That is why smoothwater landings are highly discouraged: because of the absence of waves or ripples, it is very difficult to judge height and gauge rate of descent.

Famous last words:

Basinger: "Are you sure you can land this thing?"
Mancuso: "Piece of cake".

As they emerge:

Basinger: "What did we hit??"
Mancuso: "We hit the (expletive) water!"

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Charlton Heston came to my college campus to promote this movie. One of my schoolmates told me that Heston said (per above) the plane cartwheel crash was not planned but after it happened, it was incorporated into the movie. Heston also added that the line "Piece of cake" was what the pilot had told the director directly before crashing into the lake. So they used that line in the movie also...

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Thank you both for those interesting posts. Great stuff.

http://www.secretoftheincas.co.uk

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Found an interesting blurb on an aviation site about this crash:

There is a neat story that goes along with this accident. We knew the pilot who was doing the flying for the movie and thought he'd be doing it all. However, the director knew a guy in California who flew for the movies and was also an aerobatic showman. He used to do an act with a man standing on his wing."

"Unfortunately, the pilot wiped him off one day during a performance but apparently this mishap didn't affect his ego or his reputation as a pilot and it was he who the director called upon to do this scene. Lake Lovely Water is about 4,800 feet elevation between Squamish and Whistler, BC, and it's a well-named small lake tucked into a high cliff with a spectacular waterfall at one end that billows and makes rainbows and has a steep drop-off at the other. Malcolm, our friend, was asked to run the Hollywood pilot through the technique needed for this landing for the scene."

"Mr. Hollywood pilot had no float plane time and wouldn't accept that flying an aircraft on floats was very different than flying wheels ... besides he was an aerobatic pilot with thousands of hours. Malcolm said the guy would not listen and dismissed him with a 'yeah, yeah.' The bizarre 'landing' was so spectacular that they left it in the film.

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Considering the rather constrictive bowl-like enviromnent of Lake Lovely Water and the peaks that tower around it; I'm surprised they even thought about letting him fly, let alone actually letting him. The Beaver, C-GHCT, was recovered, taken to Kelowna, rebuilt & restored and then sold to an American business. The plane now enjoys a deservingly-spoiled life as N323RS.

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