Filming The Rescue of The B-25 “Sandbar Mitchell”

The Restorers is a documentary film about warbird and vintage aircraft restorers and the planes they resurrect from the graves of history.
The Restorers is a documentary film about warbird and vintage aircraft restorers and the planes they resurrect from the graves of history.
The Restorers is a documentary film about warbird and vintage aircraft restorers and the planes they resurrect from the graves of history.

If you are a warbird enthusiast you must have watched the documentary “The Restorers” at least once. The Restorers – They Were All Volunteers has earned two Emmy awards in 2012.  Producer Kara Martinelli and Director Adam White won for Best Writing and Technical Achievement for the film. Adam  and Kara produced the documentary film  with 8 short stories about people restoring planes.

You may have heard about Todd and Patrick, the guys out of Michigan who raised some money to go rescue a B-25 bomber known as the Sandbar Mitchell. They have certainly been spreading the word about their endeavors and here at Warbirds News we have covered their adventure few times. Click HERE to read our previous articles..  Adam and Kara found out about them through a posting on Facebook. They read the story and thought it would be perfect for their show. Being totally different fromthe other stories they covered, which usually are about completed projects and mostly about those that fly. When they heard about this, Director Adam White and producer Kara Martinelli thought, “We never get a chance to actually film a recovery while it’s happening.” So they called Patrick and asked him if it were ok to tag along and film it.

Here is a short diary of the expedition told by Kara.

“So off we went into the the Alaska wilderness on an adventure. And an adventure it was. I kept nerdy exclaiming “Adventure is out there!” As the week wore on it became more of a quiet statement to rally us to get up in the morning. We arrived on the solstice, right when the sun would be up for 24 hours a day, so sleep wasn’t happening all the time. Also, long, 90+ degree days, fighting mosquitoes while filming the recovery on the sandbar  didn’t help either.

After cutting the path, the rescue team cleared about 30 feet on one side of the aircraft, which for the first time, allowed them to take a picture of the entire aircraft in one photo.
After cutting the path, the rescue team cleared about 30 feet on one side of the aircraft, which for the first time, allowed them to take a picture of the entire aircraft in one photo.

The first days were spent clearing all the trees that had grown around the Sandbar Mitchell. When we first looked upon her, it was straight out of a reveal shot in Indiana Jones, with a jungle of trees squished right up against the plane. You could hardly see her until you were on top of it. We did get some fun stuff. Finding pieces of the plane buried in the sand over time, made it very much like an archeological dig. They even found the borate that has solidified underneath the plane. So there was bagging and tagging of different items. And some careful fighting with pieces that didn’t want to detach from each other. To the interesting removal of the B-25’s pieces from the island. Lots of carrying the pieces out by hand onto small waiting boats. I filmed on the boat that carried the nose section of the plane, and got hit with all sorts of dirt and debris that had collected over the years. Once on the main land, they were transferred to pick up trucks and hauled to a local company to wait for the truck to carry them off to Michigan.

Then came the last piece. The piece they came for. The B-25 center section. With a donated construction helicopter airlift, the schedule kept changing. So unfortunately, we were unable to be there for the really cool part. We did have to hire a local cameraman to cover the event for us. From his reports and his footage, it was nothing less than spectacular, with a tornado of wind and sand as the helicopter lowered with the straps to go around the center section. I’m sorry we had to go onto another job, otherwise we wouldn’t have missed such a spectacle!

The plaque that the rescue team placed where the B-25 crashed in 1969.
The plaque that the rescue team placed where the B-25 crashed in 1969.

And on a side note, on of ours last day on the sandbar, they had a ceremony dedicating a plaque to the B-25 crew; the guys who made an emergency landing on that site 44 years to the day prior. We all gathered and while everyone was chatting, I could hear pig noises coming from the other side of the cleared brush. I asked the our boat captain if there were wild pigs or boar in Alaska. And he said, oh no, bear make that sound. We were aware that they may be around, but I’m glad it was the last day I would be there that I actually found evidence of one.”

Help the Show! Click HERE to find how you can help to bring the show to the airwaves.

 

Click the image below to purchase a copy of The Restorers.

The Restorers

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. B-25 Sandbar Mitchell – September / October 2014 Update | Alaska News Feed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*