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In 2004 my friend Dag and I were presented with the opportunity to witness the first civilian (non-government) space shot. It would be history in the making so we jumped at the chance to be a part of it. Due to a couple of small errors, like turning left when we were told to turn right, we stumbled upon a truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure. We were not prepared for what unfolded, but we did our best to take advantage of it. Because of the wrong turn, Dag and I were suddenly right next to the spacecraft rubbing elbows (literally) with the technicians and the pilot. At one point I was asked if I could move over just a bit to allow one of the launch crew access to the inside of the spaceship. Why we were not told to take a hike is a testament to the good nature and professionalism of the men and women responsible for the project. Of course, the fact that Dag had a professional video camera on his shoulder might have been a significant factor that contributed to our good fortune.
Our home video camera was dead. It was corroded with salt from years of use on the sailboat in San Francisco bay. We knew that the event would be a photo op so we had to have a camera. Fortunately, Dag had a contact at one of the TV stations in Sacramento who arranged for us to use one of their professional quality cameras. That turned out to be a key factor in making the video because it made us look like a professional news organization that belonged up close and personal. Later when we presented copies of the DVD to the “Spacemen” and the ground crew they were amazed that a couple of guys off of the street got so close to the action and were intertwined with the crew. We were astonished as well. Nevertheless, we were pleased that they liked our video.
Looking back on the experience Dag and I realize that if we were prepared for the opportunity that suddenly landed in our laps we could have designed the production a bit better. However, we were not displeased with what we created. I am especially pleased because during the shooting and the post-production I often had painful attacks of kidney stones and it was an effort to just concentrate. Trust me, you do not want that experience.
The key to a video project is what is called post-production. I wrote the script based on the video that we took. Dag did a great job editing the video and putting the music to it. We had to get permission to use the music and we paid royalties for the privilege.
During the shooting, we had the chance to speak with some very interesting and influential people. We could not believe that we were interacting with so many famous people. Had we been more experienced with producing a video we might have recorded more of the interactions with people like the SpaceShipOne pilots Mike Melvill, and Brian Binnie, and the well-known Sir Richard Branson, who needs no further introduction. We also met Paul Allen the co-founder of Microsoft, and of course Burt Rutan, the genius engineer who designed SpaceShipOne, and the launch vehicle, White Knight as well as a laundry list of other great airplanes. Everyone we met connected with the project was most accommodating to us. A year later when we were at the annual fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin Brian Binnie and his wife told me that they liked the song that Dag wrote for the production. They also told me that their daughter threatened to leave home if they did not stop singing it around the house. It is a catchy tune so who can blame them for signing it? I remember fondly just how much my mother loved it.
Almost everyone who makes a video or a movie can always look back and see how they might have made it just a bit better. Dag and I are no exception. Experience is the best teacher and we vowed to create a perfect video when SpaceShipTwo takes to the sky. That event was scheduled to be within two or three years of the historic flight of SpaceShipOne, but here we are in 2021, and it is only now becoming a reality. I am sneaking up on having spent 80-years on the planet. My heart still wants to make the sequel, but the odds are that my participation in creating a sequel will likely be an unfulfilled dream.
We still have some DVDs in stock. If you want a collectors edition then you can use the contact page to request one. However, our real desire that you enjoy our special ground-level look at the historic space event from the perspective of an ordinary person. The Discovery Channel spent millions producing a slick information-rich video, but the video from two regular fellows that came about because I turned left instead of right turned out to be an interesting look at history in the making.
Today, some Billionaires along with a few countries are aiming for the stars. People like Burt Rutan, *Paul Allen, Mike Melvill, Brian Binnie, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and others have done so much to keep the dream of space travel alive. What they have accomplished is fantastic, and almost unbelievable. I watch as it unfolds now with the same childlike curiosity that I had over 70 years ago. I still follow along with great interest and I look forward to each milestone. Dag and I had the good fortune to be there to witness and document the birth of what is now a well-developed civilian space adventure that someday will lead to thousands of earthlings venturing to another planet, or the moon.
If after you watch the video you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me. You can also leave a message for Dag on this website. Our memories of the event are still very much intact, and we are happy to share them with you. I will leave you with one of Dag’s favorite memories.
My favorite memory, the one that always makes me laugh out loud, is of the early morning video I took of the SpaceShipOne crew chief, Steve Losey standing under the spacecraft explaining how it works to the group of VIPs assembled there in the pre-dawn hours. I’ll never forget meeting Steve a year later at the annual Fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and hearing him say, “How in the world did you get those shots? Where the hell were you? I never saw you!” LOL.. ‘guerrilla video’ I LOVE it.
Director, Mojave Magic https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0489767/?ref_=adv_li_tt
CLICK HERE to watch the video
CLICK HERE to see Jim & Dag singing to the spacemen in front of 4,000 people at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. NOTE: That’s not me singing off-key. LOL
*Paul Allen has since passed away. RIP Paul, you were a true visionary.