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. Theyâ€™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 â€œThe Great Escape.â€ 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 episodeâ€™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.
â€œWe knew the Boneyard existed, and since day one we had the idea of using it for the show,â€ said Ismael Soto, The Great Escape producer. â€œWe thought it would be really cool visually and neat for the contestants.â€
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.
â€œThe contestants are going to start the game blindfolded and locked in a B-52 cargo hold,â€ said Rich Eisen, The Great Escape host. â€œTheyâ€™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, itâ€™s going to blow their minds.â€
With its vast breadth of Air Force history and military might, the Boneyard became a beloved setting for some of the crew members.
â€œThis is the sixth episode weâ€™ve shot and itâ€™s by far my favorite location,â€ Soto said. â€œA lot of my family is in the military and when I tell them where I am, they get very envious because theyâ€™ve always wanted to come out here. The shoot has been grueling because weâ€™re working about 20 hours a day, but when you come out of the production trailer and look around and see where weâ€™re shooting, it makes the long hours worthwhile.â€
Soto is not the only person the Boneyard has made an impression on.
â€œTo be at the Boneyard is a memory Iâ€™ll never forget,â€ Eisen said. â€œTo see all this fills me with a great sense of pride. Iâ€™m proud of all the people who work here and keep these aircraft alive. Itâ€™s awesome to see and itâ€™s an honor to be here.â€
Hosting the filming of â€œThe Great Escapeâ€ served as a unique opportunity to showcase camaraderie between the Air Force and our neighbors to the west.
â€œWeâ€™re at the Boneyard because itâ€™s a great location as far as what weâ€™re able to do and see, and also what weâ€™re able to showcase,â€ Soto said. â€œWe get to give back to the Air Force and show what they can do. Weâ€™ve had nothing but cooperation with the Air Force and everyone has been very cordial and respectful. Itâ€™s going to be a great show.â€