the DeHavilland Beaver.
Capital Region has a new local celebrity—but it’s not a person.
The DeHavilland Beaver, which is owned by Saratoga resident
Tim Zilka and is displayed at and flown from the Saratoga
County Airport, is a yellow float plane, an aircraft that
can land on paved runways, grass and, when the landing gear
is retracted, water. It will be featured in the upcoming Reese
Witherspoon film Sweet Home Alabama. The Beaver, which
Zilka says is “the ultimate [float] plane,” already has been
spotted in coming attractions for the film, which will be
released by Touchstone Pictures on Sept. 27.
Beaver has a history of doing commercials and documentaries,”
says Zilka (he is unable to specify which ones, as they were
made when the plane was under a different ownership). “[The
filmmakers] looked up the tail number and contacted me. They
wanted [a yellow plane] for the set design. They said yellow
worked the best for the film.”
Zilka has enjoyed the attention he has received since Sweet
Home Alabama’s trailer hit movie screens everywhere. “Every
time people see it I get calls,” he says. “It makes me so
proud. The best thing that I can relate to this is that my
niece and nephew were at a drive-in watching previews of movies
coming up, and my niece, who is 5 years old, saw the Beaver
and in the middle of the drive-in hollered, ‘That’s Uncle
Timmy’s plane!’ ”
Zilka says that while he has received requests from people
who want to use the Beaver in future media projects, he uses
the vehicle primarily for his own recreation. “I travel mostly
in the Northeast. I love to go to Vermont, New Hampshire,
Maine, northern New York. I usually do one- or two-hour trips.”
Zilka encourages people to come see the plane, which was flown
back from Atlanta, where the movie was filmed, and is currently
on display at the Saratoga County Airport. “If anyone wants
to come in and say hi and see the plane, they’re more than
welcome to,” Zilka says.
A trailer featuring the DeHavilland Beaver can be accessed
at Sweet Home Alabama’s official website (www.sweet-home-alabama.com).