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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 376

Mythbusters: Car versus gravity

There are only a certain number of places that a helicopter can safely drop a car 4,000 feet to the ground -- and capture it on film.  Luckily for a TV crew, one of those places is Cuddeback Dry Lake Bed, managed by BLM-California's Ridgecrest Field Office.

Popular television show Mythbusters sets out to prove or disprove popular myths, or situations presented by the media in movies, TV shows or advertising.  In this case, a commercial explores the concept: can a new car outrun gravity?  As one car drops from the sky, another races the same distance across the ground, to beat it to the drop zone. It’s a car ad – so of course, it works.  The ground-based car wins, "proving" that you should buy it for its hot performance. (text continues below)

A crewmember hooks a car up to a helicopter on the dry lake bed...
A crewmember hooks a car up to a helicopter on the dry lake bed.

A cast member runs away from the site, as a camera operator films from the helicopter:
A cast member runs across the dry lake bed, as a camera operator films from a helicopter that raises dust in its wake 

But could it really happen that way?  Mythbusters decided to find out.  Seeking a flat and open expanse, the cast and film crew headed out to the desert – after first obtaining a film permit, of course.  BLM-California’s Ridgecrest Field Office issued a three-day film permit for Cuddeback Dry Lake Bed, a popular location for filming.

In an episode set to air next week on the Discovery Channel, the crew of Beyond Productions lifted a four-door sedan 4,000 feet above the dry lake bed – then dropped it.  Another sedan sped across the desert at 120 miles per hour.  Can the speeding car outrun  its twin falling out of the sky?  Can it get to the drop zone first  – and escape safely out the other side before the falling car can hit it?  Well, we can’t reveal the ending yet.  The car drop episode will be part of a special two hour Mythbusters "Demolition Derby Special" show that will air on the Discovery Channel on April 8, 2009. (See your local television guide for air times.)

 The crew from Beyond Productions filmed the episode last October, as Ridgecrest Field Office personnel monitored the film permit.

Mythbusters Coordinating Producer Linda Wolkvitch sent a thank you to Ridgecrest Film Commission and Elaine Hanson and Peter Graves of BLM’s Ridgecrest Field Office the for the episode’s successful production stating they could not have done it without them.  That’s the truth, no myth.


Cuddeback Dry Lake is a popular film location managed by BLM-California.

Episode summary for Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel.

- Elaine Hanson, BLM-California Ridgecrest Field Office, 3/09

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 376

Last updated: 01-11-2010