The first of many exclusives to come on THE SPECIAL is this unpublished set of pictures shot at Disney/MGM studios Orlando,Fl from 2007. Presented above is a 360° view of the mockup helicopter prop built for the closeup scenes fro the movie and subsequently, the series. This perfect replica front portion of the chopper was originally mounted on a platform/hydraulic gimbal for scenes deemed too dangerous to be photographed in the air before being abandoned and laid to ruin after the cancellation of the TV Series.
This prop plus a menagerie of other mockup vehicles final resting place was the appropriately named ‘Boneyard’ only accessible by land train and featured on the ‘Backlot tour’ of MGM. Lined up for display from the studio’s opening in 1989 and steadily ravaged by the weather, Blue Thunder took its place alongside similarly outrageously treated pieces of film/TV history such as the Spinner Car from Blade Runner and aircraft from the Rocketeer. The rapid tour did not stop and only offered fleeting glimpses of the Boneyard as it flew by, making photography difficult and closer inspections an impossibility (despite repeated pleas onsite and by email)
Regardless of its status as the only 1:1 version of the helicopter still left in existence, by 2010 the frame had depleted to such a state that upon one of the many moves around the site it was decided it was too far gone and subsequently scrapped, much to the dismay of fans who had started a campaign to save it.
Luckily devotees like myself have visited the Studios on more than one occasion to try and record the prop in greater detail before its demise. Random pictures dating back from the early 2000’s show it in much better condition before the canopy glass collapsed permitting water damage on the inside. The set above represents the last time I would see it and its already apparent the shell was blistering – (its also one of the only records of the rear showing the framework) but the sheer magic of seeing this genuine and iconic piece from the production never diminished…