Over a four-month period last year, Lake Tahoe-based pro skier JT Holmes worked what he called "the best job I've ever had": as a wingsuiting stuntman for one of the biggest-budget films in history, "Transformers 3," which premieres June 28.
Holmes' work included 45 days of training jumps as well as two weeks of shooting on location in Chicago, where he plummeted from the roofs of the city's tallest skyscrapers -- the 1,451-foot Willis (formerly Sears) and 1,362-foot Trump towers -- flying like an airborne Spiderman as stunned pedestrians pointed, shouted and caught it all on video from the streets a quarter-mile below.
Of course, the real cameras were also rolling, including the heavy 3-D rig of South African Julian Boulle -- "the best wingsuiter in the world," Holmes said -- who can fly in excess of 100 mph while keeping his subjects center frame. Boulle filmed Holmes as well as three members of the Red Bull Air Force, Jon DeVore, Andy Farrington and Mike Swanson, while torpedoing between buildings on lines chosen by Holmes, some of which featured mandatory turns.
"It was surreal," Holmes said. "I could actually see inside the buildings through the windows, like, oh, that guy's desk is messy."
The July stunts were meticulously planned and executed with cooperation from the city of Chicago. Mayor Richard Daley spent time on the set, and explosions echoed through the streets like mid-morning bombs.