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Monday, April 17, 2000

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
The crashed Japanese "Val" lies upside-down on the surface
of Ford Island runway. Grass has grown up through the cracks
in the runway asphalt giving it a checkered appearance.
The pilot suffered a broken wrist and lacerations.

Mock-Japanese warplane crashes on Ford Island

Stunt pilot is injured
during 'Pearl Harbor'
movie filming

Movie plane crash isn't the first

By Gregg K. Kakesako
Star Bulletin


A male stunt pilot was injured today during filming of the Disney production at Pearl Harbor when his plane crashed on Ford Island.

The FAA said the plane was a BT13 single engine Convair -- which was built in 1943 -- that was mocked up to look like a Japanese Val bomber plane.

The plane was about to perform a torpedo sequence when its left wing clipped a coconut tree, crashed 100 yards to 200 yards away on the Ford Island runway.

The plane received wing and tail damage and ended upside down. The plane is believed to be a total loss.

A crane was used to right the plane.

The pilot, whose name was not released, suffered a broken wrist and lacerations. He was listed in stable condition at Tripler Army Hospital. He was the sole occupant of the aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board also has been called into the investigation, and an investigator is expected to arrive from California on Tuesday morning.

This is the second incident involving the Disney production. A stunt man injured his collar bone when jumping off one of the vessels involved in the filming.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Investigators survey the crash scene. No buildings
were damaged in the crash.

The American trainer aircraft mocked-up to look like a Val was the same configuration that crashed during the filming of "Tora Tora Tora" 30 years ago. In that crash, the pilot died.

There was no damage to any buildings on Ford Island, the Navy said.

Today's shooting script centered near Ford Island's Hangar 54 and the tower, where the palm tree that was hit is located, near the middle of the island.

Since the beginning of April, Disney has been shooting a movie dealing with the beginning of World War II at Pearl Harbor at the naval base and several other military installations.

More than 20 World War II aircraft -- some remade to look like Japanese warplanes and U.S. P-40 fighters -- have been imported for the $135 million production.

There are at least eight vintage Japanese aircraft and American P-40s -- which are flying in the production. The rest of the aircraft -- about 12 P-40 mock-ups -- and are made of wood and plastic foam and have no engines.

Also working with the film crew is a helicopter that has been used as a camera vehicle.

The shooting on Oahu is scheduled to end May 3.

Online Video Pearl Harbor Movie:
The Big Boom

Movie plane crash
isn’t the first

By Burl Burlingame


The crash of a "Japanese" aircraft on Ford Island today echoed a similar accident during the filming of "Tora Tora Tora" 31 years ago.

On Jan. 13, 1969, Guy Thomas Strong was killed when the aircraft he was piloting during a scene crashed and burned in an Ewa cane field.

Strong, a 35-year-old ex-Navy pilot, was flying a American BT-13 trainer modified to look like a Japanese Aichi 99 D3A "Val" dive bomber. The aircraft that crashed today is the same type. Some of the aircraft used in the current Disney "Pearl Harbor" production are from the same stable of more than 30 aircraft modified for the "Tora" filming.

Strong's aircraft was flying in formation with another "Val" piloted by Honolulu resident Art Wildern in the late afternoon when it suddenly nosed straight into the cane field, tearing a long groove through the plants before bursting into flame. By the time bystanders managed to reach the scene, Strong had died in the flames.

Honolulu firefighters worked into the evening, putting out fires in the fuel-soaked sugar cane.

Wildern was air-operations manager for the 20th Century Fox production. The pilots were rehearsing dive-bombing maneuvers.

A well-executed crash landing on Ford Island by a B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber with one wheel accidentally locked up, was captured by "Tora" film crews and edited into the final film.

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