I’m always amazed at people that can open the box to a complicated LEGO model, with over 1,000 pieces, and methodically assemble it. The good news, when you build a LEGO Millenium Falcon, if it falls apart, no one gets hurt. (well, except the unlucky person that steps on one of the pieces) When you build an airplane, you better know what you’re doing, like the team that built Dusty. Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet Rusty Lindeman, the pilot that built the real Dusty crophopper plane, from Disney’s “Planes” movie.
Yes, I might have giggled a little that Rusty and Dusty rhyme. Disney really turned to an expert, considering Rusty has over 20 years experience in agricultural aviation. He has a crop dusting business in a small town near San Antonio, TX, that also paints and re-build airplanes. The real Dusty Crophopper is actually an AT-301, in need of repairs, that was stripped down and modified into an AT-400A.
How cool is it that the folks at Disney had a real airplane built to make Dusty come to life? My son loved watching “Planes” in the theater, and like most little boys has a fascination with airplanes. Since this was my first visit to the Wings Over Houston air show, and I had no idea what to expect, the kids missed the opportunity to meet Dusty and his pilot Rusty. If you’ve seen the film, you know Dusty isn’t an ordinary crop duster, he’s a plane that is afraid of heights.
When Rusty and his team built the real Dusty, they made some changes to suit their needs. They took the area designed to hold crop dusting chemicals, and transformed it into a fuel tank. The modification allows Rusty to fly Dusty anywhere in the U.S. with only one stop! The entire project which should have taken an average of 6-8 months, was completed in 5.5 weeks. I can’t even get all of our laundry done in five and a half weeks!
His face lit up as he talked about how much fun he’s had taking Dusty to various airshows. “I like to stand back and watch the kids in the crowds. Sometimes I’ll walk up to the shy ones, and introduce them to the plane and give them a closer look,” Rusty said. When he’s in the air, a track with Dane Cook’s voice narrates the performance, while Rusty follows the cues. Kids and their parents are riveted to the sky as Dusty performs, while Rusty is listening to satellite radio.
I wonder if the kids Rusty interacts with, ask him any tough questions. After watching Dusty’s performance, a friend’s son wanted to know why Dusty needed a pilot for the airshow, but not in the movie. Great question!
Disney’s “Planes” lands on DVD and Blu-ray on November 19, you can pre-order your copy on Amazon.