by Jim Kowats
Day one of the shoot. I’ve just flown from Washington to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Bremen, and then driven two hours to Jever Air Force Base in Northern Germany. I’m jet-lagged and don‘t understand much German. But our crew of five — a German Producer, cameraman, sound recordist, and grip — all speak German, and the Air Force guys don’t speak a lick of English. I can understand about every 20th word. We have a coffee break, introductions, a safety training, and then head out to the base for a tour. Jever has been used for maintenance projects for many years, and dozens of planes get broken down here, while others are being maintained, every year. As you drive around, you see lots of Phantoms and Tornados. It’s raining, but we, like our main character, Capt. Christian Nastulla, stay positive. He has a pleasant personality and is always jovial. All he keeps telling us is “you have to try fish tonight for dinner.” Apparently, it’s the thing to eat in Northern Germany.
On the second day of the shoot, we had a 15 hour day. We started on base at 8 am and finished at another base, Wittmund, around 11 pm. But it was incredibly inspiring to spend a day on an active base — we got to shoot a night take-off, flames and all. All of the pilots speak English and were trained in the US for some time. In fact, we met Capt. Timo Jung here. He gave us a tour of the base, and then it dawned on us: He needs to be in the show! He’s a young pilot with a dynamic personality. We ended up returning to the base to shoot with him again a couple of weeks later.
Video Preview: “Winged Warrior Shelf Life” — One of the most lethal fighter jets in the world is on its last legs. Join a crew as they carefully deconstruct an F-4 Phantom.
Break it Down‘s “Fighter Jet” premieres Thursday July 22 at 8P et/pt.