Chasing the WestJet Magic Plane

In December, we unveiled the WestJet Magic Plane, a custom-painted Boeing 737 with a special Walt Disney World-themed paint job, featuring Sorcerer Mickey. Since the Magic Plane first took flight, it has travelled throughout our network, bringing guests to a variety of destinations including Orlando, Los Angeles, Cancun, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, San Jose del Cabo, Zihuatanejo, Turks and Caicos, La Romana and Varadero. When touching down in Canada, it has spent the bulk of its time in Calgary and Toronto, but has also made appearances in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Regina, Victoria and Edmonton so far.

Wherever the Magic Plane flies, it captures the attention of our guests and other people who are in and around the airport. We’ve seen a lot of photos on Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, and even a few YouTube videos from plane spotters around North America. If you happen see it during your travels, be sure to snap a photo and post it to your favourite social media sites with the #MagicPlane hashtag.

A few days after the Magic Plane’s inaugural flight to Orlando, we had the opportunity to send it up for an air-to-air photo and video session with our friends at Wolfe Air. The result is this video, filmed over the badlands near Drumheller, Alberta.

This isn’t the first time we’ve done an air-to-air photo session with one of our aircraft, but it’s definitely one of our favourites. We hope you agree!

To help ensure we make the most of our time in the air, Wolfe Air’s LearJet 25 has cameras custom-mounted on the nose and top and bottom of the fuselage to help capture high definition video and photos. The inside of the cabin is full of gear to record the flight, and a handful of experienced crew members are on board to run the equipment.
Wolfe Air film equipment
The two aircraft maintain constant radio contact while flying between 15,000-18,000 feet, which is an ideal altitude to maintain visual flight rules (VFR) and frequently change headings to see the plane in different light. Special modifications to the LearJet, and special operational procedures, allow the two aircraft to get much closer than would normally be possible. Of course, skilled pilots on both aircraft ensure everyone stays safe.

Magic plane from Wolfe Air chase plane
Shawn and Dzung from the WestJet Creative Services team were fortunate to be on board this particular flight, and described what it was like to ride along in the LearJet while chasing the WestJet Magic Plane.

Shawn said he was “most impressed with the teamwork and the communication, both amongst the Wolfe Air team in the LearJet and with the WestJet pilots flying the 737. There were two pilots on both aircraft and one did the flying while the other controlled the radio. The second LearJet pilot acted as a film director, calling various shots and coordinating with his camera crew and the WestJet pilots. He even had a little monitor on the dashboard so he could see exactly what the camera was filming.”

“The Wolfe Air crew was very professional and were always on the spot when they called for a particular shot,” said Dzung. “You could tell they’ve done this a lot and executed the plan to near perfection. It was very cramped inside the plane, with so much equipment everywhere, so it wasn’t easy to move around, but they were everywhere they needed to be, getting the footage that was required.”

Both Shawn and Dzung were envious of the technology that enabled the filming, and were impressed with the LearJet’s nimble handling.
Wolfe Air Remote filming
“It was kind of like being in a powerful sports car, zipping around a limo that is cruising down a very wide highway,” said Dzung. “The Magic Plane flew at a constant speed, on a more-or-less straight line, but we were constantly accelerating or decelerating while flying up, over and all around it.”

“At the same time,” Shawn added, “the camera crew worked their remote controls to ensure the RED 4K camera was always pointed in the right direction, focused on the Magic Plane and capturing these amazing images. It was so cool to watch it all happen.”