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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Helicopter crash Chuck Norris film.

Click pix to enlarge.

This day was a disaster for the Chuck Norris film crew but certainly a black page in the international film industry in the Philippines. We just had left the shooting location in the mountains of Ternate about 2.5 miles from my place in Naic Cavite. We finished the takes for “Braddock, Missing in Action 3”at Maragondon bridge. The set was moving to Manila for the final shots. Chuck has rescued some 68 half caste children and finds his way thru the jungle of Nam, joined by a priest. To reach freedom, they need to cross a bridge where 10 green berets are guarding the scene on the other side of the river. I'm one of them.Two helicopters have rolling camera's, who could predict at that time, that one of these heli's was going to crash within two days, although, there seemed to be something wrong already cause the crew was talking about vibrations in the rotor or something. When they took off at diner time, the turbulence dusted our meals. We had a wrap at Thursday may 28.”

It wasn't the first time that a film crew came down to that area. The landscape could go for Nam. Platoon blew up a complete valley I believe with napalm in '86 during a night-shooting, I got killed here several times. Hamburger Hill found its Hill over here in december that same year. Mud was made by fire-hoses to create Monsoon weather. Eastern Condor made some shots here, and now Mia 3 shooting a highlight...

-Saturdaymorning may 30, 1988-

It's still early in the morning when I'm doing my daily workout on the beach around seven, seven thirty. I'm preparing for the final takes Monday in Manila. A big scene with hundred of extra's, filmed from the air.”
One of the helicopters was on its way from Manila to Ternate to pick up the crew. I recognized the chopper and waved with my hand, but I doubt if they have seen anything because of the low sun.
Aboard were a German stuntman and 6 crew members. Just seconds later, a weird sound and when I turned around, there was no more heli...
Less than a mile ahead, a 100 meters offshore, fishing boats were coming to rescue and pick up the survivors. Debris were brought to the beach. Another heli (a real rescue) was pretty quick on the scene and transported the dead and wounded to the hospital in Naic less than a mile from there.
The tail rotor had caused the accident. It was jerked from it's bolts and had landed in a fishermans house straight thru the nipa roof, fortunately harming no one. I knew some of the crew already since '84 when I was aboard the red cross heli in 'Behind Enemy Lines'.
I was probably the last to take pictures of this flying machine, two days before the tragedy.

And of course Vic Morrow's tragedy came so close now.
Two days before, having almost 70 kids on the set, can you imagine my thoughts..?


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