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KEN BARNES: Rare tape saves red-carpet flight

Merced Maulers

Pictured is clip from DVD done by columnist showing title imposed over Cessna Citation jet used during a trip to Canada.

During all the many years I was able to film hunts in Canada, I usually flew out of Meadows Field if I was with a group of local hunters. One quick stop in Denver, and then on to Edmonton, Alberta.

If I was with a coastal group or Los Angeles guys, we would take a non-stop from LAX. But there was one time in the past when that changed. My friend, Adam Stull, called one day and said that a mutual hunting buddy from Merced was interested in making another trip to Alberta.

His name was Scott Neal, and he had gone with us a few years earlier on a commercial flight. Only this time, he wanted to take along three of his friends, as well as Adam and I. So, we would be flying in his private jet...a Cessna Citation.

Talk about excited. I could hardly wait. But then, I started thinking about a problem I might have filming the hunt. Over the years, I had amassed a good collection of major airline clips showing in-terminal, taxiing, take-offs, landings, and in-air shots.

I always incorporated these into the beginning of my film after my logo. I would usually show the guys boarding the aircraft, then the take-off. Then an in air shot of the plane, and fade my title in over it, and then fade out. Last would be the plane landing.

All of this had a nice musical background. I would start the hunting part of the film with the boys walking out of the baggage area, and someone would talk about the days ahead. None of this would be possible for this trip without a Citation tape.

We were going to leave from the airport in Madera, where Scott kept his plane in a hangar, on a Sunday morning. For the whole week before I was trying to think of someplace I could find some tapes.

I called Cessna headquarters in Kansas, but they said they had nothing available. Then I thought, maybe eBay. I just about fell out of my chair while on the computer when I saw a package of six Cessna demonstration VHS tapes up for auction, including the Citation.

The current bid was $12, and the auction ended Sunday afternoon. I put in a maximum bid of $25, figuring I had a good chance of winning. I woke up about four in the morning on Sunday thinking about my bid.

I just had to have those tapes, no matter the cost, within reason. I changed my maximum bid to $100, and hoped I would blow anyone else away.

We all met in Madera and boarded Scott's plane. Wow! Just awesome. I can see why people own private jets.

No ticket lines, baggage fees, security checks, or waiting for anything. We made a quick three-hour flight to Edmonton, went through customs away from the main terminal, and then made a quick 20 minute flight to Vermillion, where we met our guide.

That afternoon I called my daughter Jennifer and asked her to check my eBay bid. She did, and said I had won with a bid of $23. Yes!! I could not have been more elated.

There is one more funny story about these tapes. I did what I usually do when putting the DVD for the guys together.

I used my film for the boys loading the plane in Madera, then used the Cessna clip showing a Citation taking off from a runway and lifting into the air. The clip was taken from another aircraft in the air at about 1,500 feet, I would say. Then I showed some of my tape with the fellows in the plane chatting, and the pilot and co-pilot at the controls.

Next was a shot of a Citation in the air, and I faded my title in and out over it. The only difference between it and Scott's plane was the color of the trim. The last shot was a plane landing and rolling down the runway.

The music stopped, and the hunting film started with my friends exiting the plane at the airport in Vermillion.

A couple of weeks after sending copies of the tapes to Scott, I called to make sure they had arrived. He said they did, and everyone thought they were great.

Then he said, "Ken, I showed your video to some of my workers here in the office. When the shot of the take-off came up, one of my guys exclaimed, ' didn't really hire another plane to get a picture of you taking off, did you?' We all had a great laugh."

Thanks Scott, for one of the best trips I have had the pleasure of filming.

BASIC FIREARMS & HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE: Next course offered: Oct. 7-8 2019, two-day course. Oct.9 is an internet follow-up course. This is sponsored by Jay Busby. For more information call 661-871-9025.

Ken Barnes is a record setting shooter and longtime outdoorsman from Kern County. Email him at with comments or column ideas.

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