A Newsletter from the Producer of
Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air
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,
Producer of the Award-Winning documentary
Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women's National Air
Derby. An Archetypal Images Production.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
My First Bi-Plane Ride: The
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
Andrew and Heather in the
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
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
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!
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
the summer of 1929.
Breaking Through The Clouds provides
over two hours of captivating viewing with original
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
material included, the film
features challenges the women
faced during the race, what the
women wore and more
about the planes & navigation in 1929.
Cost $30 plus S&H
What is Breaking Through The
Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby?
Breaking Through The Clouds:
First Women's National Air Derby
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
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
from a young woman in
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
their stories are so
inspirational and relevant for today.
We commiserated about
sparkle the women had and
their enthusiasm for aviation. I explained to Alexandria how that enthusiasm
something I wished to
harness to use as an example for
BTTC has only been able to succeed because of individual support! It
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
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
on race day in BTTC.
Black BTTC AND white BTTC
are available for purchase. Below is what the front of a black t-shirt
looks like. The back has breakingthroughtheclouds.com written in the top middle
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
Old Cover DVD's on
I still have some DVDs with the old cover featured. Despite the
a couple spelling errors in the
opening quote and a missing
the film is the same as what is
sold now. I am selling these
for $20 plus shipping. If interested, send an email to
we can work out the
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