July 12, 2012

AMARG hosts game show “The Great Escape”

Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Timothy D. Moore)
Alex Horton, “The Great Escape” art department swingman, unscrews a safety hatch on a fuel tank in the airplane graveyard of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 10, 2012. The Great Escape used the “Boneyard” as the setting for one of its shows.

Among the miles and miles of war-torn, decommissioned planes resting at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group are a new group of visitors. They’re transporting equipment not often seen at the Boneyard such as trailers, TV monitors, video cameras, walkie-talkies, walkie-talkies and even more walkie-talkies.

The California-based film crew is shooting a new reality game show called “The Great Escape.” Each show, three two-person teams are tasked with overcoming various challenges, evading security and trying to finish first in a race to win $100,000.

Each episode’s environment varies greatly from one to the next. Previous arenas included the USS Hornet and Alcatraz prison. Each location is special in its own way and the Boneyard is no different.

“We knew the Boneyard existed, and since day one we had the idea of using it for the show,” said Ismael Soto, The Great Escape producer. “We thought it would be really cool visually and neat for the contestants.”

The creators of the show also wanted to keep with the theme of aircraft and the Air Force. Each of the challenges were tailored to involve aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules, C-5 Galaxy and B-52 Stratofortress.

“The contestants are going to start the game blindfolded and locked in a B-52 cargo hold,” said Rich Eisen, The Great Escape host. “They’ll have to breakout of this behemoth aircraft and move on from there. Once they get out and see where they are with all these aircraft, it’s going to blow their minds.”

With its vast breadth of Air Force history and military might, the Boneyard became a beloved setting for some of the crew members.

“This is the sixth episode we’ve shot and it’s by far my favorite location,” Soto said. “A lot of my family is in the military and when I tell them where I am, they get very envious because they’ve always wanted to come out here. The shoot has been grueling because we’re working about 20 hours a day, but when you come out of the production trailer and look around and see where we’re shooting, it makes the long hours worthwhile.”

Soto is not the only person the Boneyard has made an impression on.

“To be at the Boneyard is a memory I’ll never forget,” Eisen said. “To see all this fills me with a great sense of pride. I’m proud of all the people who work here and keep these aircraft alive. It’s awesome to see and it’s an honor to be here.”

Hosting the filming of “The Great Escape” served as a unique opportunity to showcase camaraderie between the Air Force and our neighbors to the west.

“We’re at the Boneyard because it’s a great location as far as what we’re able to do and see, and also what we’re able to showcase,” Soto said. “We get to give back to the Air Force and show what they can do. We’ve had nothing but cooperation with the Air Force and everyone has been very cordial and respectful. It’s going to be a great show.”

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