Friday, October 26, 2012

In the Sky with BTTC

A Newsletter from the Producer of
Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby
Newsletter #17
October 2012

Welcome to the newsletter about:

Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby (BTTC).

As the leaves change colors and the temperature drops, I find myself reflecting back to the whirlwind of last October. One week in particular was crazy as I flew to Tacoma, Washington to be a part of the Tacoma Film Festival, then to Vegas where I won the Combs Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame (meeting Harrison Ford, Gene Cernan, Bob Hoover, Clay Lacy, Sean D Tucker and others!) and on to Chagrin Falls, Ohio where I won Best of Show at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival. What a week! The month continued to bring good news with the win of the Utopia Film Festival and the Reel Independent Film Festival.

This fall is much calmer, however, there has been rumblings of another award to be announced in November. I'll be sure to pass the good news along should the rumor prove true.

Meanwhile, I finally got my bi-plane ride and it was a blast! Read below to learn some more about the airplanes used in the recreations for BTTC, an article about discovering your sparkle and my experience in the "Bird."
Blue Skies to all,
Heather Taylor

Producer of the Award-Winning documentary Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby. An Archetypal Images Production.
In This Issue
The Planes! The Planes!
My First Bi Plane Ride
BTTC DVD Available
Thank you
Opportunity Quote
BTTC Tshirts For Sale
Sale of Old Cover DVDs

Planes & The Recreation Flights for BTTC
Planes Used in Recreation For BTTC
Since documentaries are a visual field and there is no way to find footage of every single occurrence in a historical event, I knew I would have to be creative in telling certain parts of the air race. Many historical documentaries can be somewhat boring with only black and white images. Therefore, I was adamant that I wanted colorful beauty shots of airplanes and bright images capturing the romance of flying to help contrast the black and white footage. My goal was to give the viewer the feeling that they could be flying the derby, have a sense of what the women may have felt like flying in the planes, understand why the women were so passionate about aviation and have a sense of what flying in 1929 truly meant. In essence, I wanted to put the viewer in the pilot's seat.
Luck was on my side when pilot Andrew King told me he knew pilots with planes similar to what the women flew in the derby. I immediately contacted the pilots to see if they would be interested in being a part of a recreation shoot. I also contacted Paul Dougherty, the owner of the Golden Age Air Museum in Pennsylvania to see about using their airport, which has a grass strip. The response from all whom I contacted was so incredibly positive, enthusiastic and supportive!
Andrew & Jonathan
All was going well until one week before the shoot. For those who have read some of the obstacles in my process of producing BTTC, here is another example. Cameraman Jonathan Donnelly called me to say he was in the hospital. He was in extreme pain but no one knew what was wrong at that time. Fortunately Jonathan was released a couple days later and we were able to reschedule for a time when most of the pilots were available.
A month or so after the recreation shoot, Jonathan learned he had pancreatic cancer. It was a shock to us all. It was the beginning of a very rough year for Jonathan to say the least with numerous surgeries and complications. However, Jonathan is one of the lucky ones. I'm happy and relieved to report that he beat the odds and has made a full recovery!
The day we rescheduled the shoot, the weather was absolutely gorgeous and the sky a beautiful blue. As pilots started arriving in their brightly colored airplanes, we started coordinating the shots. Andrew began instructing the pilots about the flying sequences Jonathan and I described and the shots we wished to film. There were no radios in the airplanes and no way to communicate other than hand signals or direction before the pilots left the ground.

I definitely wanted to take advantage of the airplanes available and match the events that happened in the derby with the story. For example, Phoebe Omlie flew a monocoupe in the derby. The museum had a monocoupe as did Pilot Bob Coolbaugh who brought his bright yellow monocoupe to the field. The museum also had a Waco similar to Gladys O'Donnell flew. Mike O'Neal brought his green Fleet airplane to the field, which is what Chubbie Miller flew. Joe Santana brought his his green Travel Air and Bill Plecenik brought his red Travel Air. Travel Air was THE most popular plane in the derby with seven entered in the race. Louise Thaden, Pancho Barnes and Blanche Noyes were just some of the women who flew Travel Airs in the derby. The museum even had an ambulance from the 1920s time period that we were able to use to simulate when Margaret Perry got typhoid fever!
Heather in Monocoupe like Phoebe Omlie Flew In Derby
Filming all that I wanted to film over two days was challenging given that we only had a skeleton crew, no budget, and I had not completed the script for the film yet! It was also challenging for me personally considering BTTC was my first film and the only shoot I directed was interviewing people in a static location. However, everyone chipped in, took the initiative and helped to create a fun, safe, and incredible experience. I certainly learned a ton that weekend and am thankful to everyone who contributed their time, talent and skills.

The pilots who flew recreation scenes in BTTC
The Pilots Who Flew Recreation Scenes in BTTC
Seeing all the planes there that weekend was so thrilling. From the look to the sound to the smell to the feel, I really got a sense of the excitement the women must have felt that warm summer day in August, 1929. Watching the planes take off into the gorgeous blue sky was like taking a step back into time, capturing some of the derby and bringing it forward with new life.

It has always been important to me that BTTC be as accurate as possible. To film planes like the women flew in the derby was a dream come true! Many pilots have told me that my little self-financed film is more accurate and entertaining than any of the big blockbuster Hollywood films. This is one of my most treasured complements.

I will forever be grateful to all the people involved in making that summer day so fun and memorable, enthusiastically helping me to tell the story of 20 incredible women following a passion in 1929. I have so many great pictures from that day so may have to write more on the recreations in a future newsletter so I can share some of the production stills. If you have questions or suggestions on a topic you would like to read more about regarding BTTC, please let me know.

My only real regret is that I didn't get a ride in one of the bi-planes. By the time we were wrapping up, the winds had picked up and I was told it would not be a pleasant ride. I'm relieved the wind waited until the end of the second day of filming before it kicked up, though, and as you'll see below, I finally DID get my bi-plane ride.

Thanks to all who were a part of such a huge weekend in my life. I am grateful to you all for helping me bring a colorful vision forward to share with others.

My First Bi-Plane Ride: The "Bird"

I was not able to get my biplane ride during the recreation shoot as previously mentioned. Subsequent opportunities seemed to be thwarted by windy conditions or scheduling conflicts. Finally, a few weeks ago Andrew King emailed me and told me to meet him at the airport. He chose a plane called "The Bird" for my first flight. The bird, I was told, is similar to the Fleet which Chubbie Miller flew in the derby. Andrew said Charles Lindbergh taught his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh to fly in the Bird. A neat tie-in is that Anne's first flight was flying the Bird to the National Air Races in 1929 where the women of the derby were!

Andrew and Heather in the Bird

I wasn't sure what to expect. I have been in many small planes throughout my life, but none of them had this version of nature's air conditioning. Once we were airborne, I was pleasantly surprised at how incredibly peaceful flying
out in the open was!

The first half of my flight, I kept thinking about Louise Thaden's words in her poem describing peacefulness of flight (her poem is recited in BTTC). The second part of the flight I kept thinking about Louise struggling with carbon monoxide as the fumes from the "Bird" were coming right back at me, making me pretty nauseous. My admiration for Louise only intensified after both experiences!

I can now state honestly that I love flying in an open cockpit plane. Many thanks to Andrew and to the folks at the Golden Age Air Museum for this thrill. Andrew may have started something he can't stop, however, as I am now looking forward to getting a ride in each model of airplane that the women flew in the derby!

Quick Links for BTTC Social Media

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BTTC DVD Available
BTTC Cover withLaurels
The DVD is available at:

The inspiring true story of 20 women who raced across America in 1929.

Follow along as headline aviatrixes Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes,
Phoebe Omlie, Bobbi Trout and
Louise Thaden race across the
country during nine amazing days in
the summer of 1929.
Breaking Through The Clouds
provides over two hours of
captivating viewing with o
footage from the women who flew
in the 1929 air derby and from the race itself.

Beautiful aerial recreations place
the viewer in the pilot's seat.
Interviews with legendary pilots
Elinor Smith Sullivan,
Patty Wagstaff, Julie Clark, family members of the original pilots
& aviation historians bring the
story alive.

With 23 minutes of bonus
included, the film
features challenges the women
faced during the race, what the
women wore and more
information about the planes & navigation in 1929.

Available at:
BTTC Cost $30 plus S&H

*Note:For those who do not like
to order on-line or use pay pal,you
may fill out this order form and
mail a check:

What is Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby?

Breaking Through The Clouds: The
First Women's National Air Derby is
an award-winning documentary about 20 female pilots, including Amelia Earhart, who raced across the country for 9 days in August 1929 to prove
that women could fly. They
encountered cultural stereotypes, navigation challenges, threats of sabotage, mechanical difficulties and endless chicken dinners. The women persevered and became pioneering legends in aviation. Their story is inspiring to anyone who has the
courage to follow their own dream.

Producer Heather Taylor had a calling to tell this inspiring story in the hopes of helping others to find the courage to search for their own path. While Heather hasn't had to deal with the endless chicken dinners like the women in the derby did, she does face the
challenges of an an independent
artist. By spreading the word and supporting the film, you are helping Heather and other struggling artists reach for the sky in their own way
and work towards breaking through
the clouds. Thank you.
Heather Taylor, Executive Producer
Archetypal Images, LLC

Go! Discover Your Sparkle
I received an email a few weeks ago
from a young woman in Iowa, Alexandria Werner. Alexandria works for Go! An On-Line Magazine for adolescents regarding transportation.
Alexandria had learned that Phoebe Omlie was born in Iowa and wanted to know more about her. Through her research, she learned about me & BTTC. She asked to interview me regarding the film and the women of
the derby. We had some wonderful conversations talking about the
amazing pilots from 1929 and how
their stories are so inspirational and relevant for today.
We commiserated about the
sparkle the women had and their enthusiasm for aviation. I explained to Alexandria how that enthusiasm is
something I wished to capture and harness to use as an example for
others on how to follow one's passion.
Alexandria wrote an article called
Discovery Your Sparkle as a result.
To read the article, follow this link:
Or copy/paste the following address in your server:
Thanks to Go! Magazine & Alexandria.

Thank You &
Ways to Help
BTTC has only been able to succeed because of individual support! It is
very much a grassroots effort so I appreciate every single comment, thumbs up, mention and email I receive. It truly keeps me going to know the film touches lives in some positive way.

If you would like to help me keep it going, here are just a few simple (and free) ideas that can make a big difference:
  • Post a positive comment (or thumbs up) on youtube underneath the BTTC clip
  • Become a Fan of BTTC Face Book Page
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Forward these newsletters, and/or sign up for my blog
  • Introduce me to contacts who might be interested in screening BTTC
All links for the social media are
below. You can also mention BTTC in your own blog, article, podcast or to friends and colleagues.

Of course there are a myriad of other ways to help as well. If the film has touched you in some way, please feel free to email and let me know. As always, thank you!


"We are all faced with a
series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations."
Charles R. Swindoll

BTTC T-shirts Available

Did you know the logo on the t shirts
is based on one of the trophies won
in the 1929 Derby? You can briefly make out the trophy in the footage
on race day in BTTC.

Black BTTC AND white BTTC t-shirts
are available for purchase. Below is what the front of a black t-shirt looks like. The back has written in the top middle part.

If you would like a t-shirt, send me an email. The cost is $20 plus postage. Heather@breakingthroughtheclou
BTTC T-shirt (black). White T-shirts with a black Logo are also available.

*PLEASE NOTE: If you haven't heard a response within a week, chances are
I did not receive the email.
You may call me at
865-242-7551 to follow up, though my preference is email first so I can keep track of the order. Thank you.

Old Cover DVD's on Sale

I still have some DVDs with the old cover featured. Despite the old cover,
a couple spelling errors in the
opening quote and a missing credit,
the film is the same as what is
sold now. I am selling these copies
for $20 plus shipping. If interested, send an email to Heather@ and
we can work out the details.
Thank you.

BTTC old cover

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