Air Hollywood, the world’s largest aviation-themed film studio, has filmed more than 500 movies and television shows, including Bridesmaids, Kill Bill, Modern Family, and The Newsroom. Its expansive warehouses are filled with all manner of airport and airline props: ticket counters, baggage claim, even the airplanes themselves.
But when Talaat Captan, president and CEO, saw a dog owner having a rough time getting a pooch through airport security, he had a new idea, according to the Associated Press. He opened his studio’s doors to dogs.
“The owner was stressed out, and the dog was freaking out,” Captan said. “I figured, ‘Why don’t I train those people?’
And so K9 Flight School was born. Captan hired his friend and animal trainer Megan Blake as well as her dog, Super Smiley, to teach the class with three other instructors. According to the site, the program trains people and their dogs about safe pet travel: how to handle airport sights and sounds, TSA check points, and crowded jet ways, among other things.
Using film sets and volunteers, the class simulates the chaos of the terminal, check in, and TSA screenings. And the Air Turbulence Simulator even allows animals a chance to acclimate to plane movements and sound, experiencing boarding, takeoff, turbulence, landing, and disembarking.
Air Hollywood conducted a test class last year with 60 puppies from Guide Dogs for the Blind, according to the AP.
“Some of the handlers were more nervous than the dogs because they don’t like to fly,” said Rick Wilcox, who oversees GDB’s puppy-training in Southern California. “It was amazing how realistic it was.”
The dogs went through the simulation “with flying colors,” and none of the dogs barked during delicate times, such as going through security and being subjected to security wands. The “flight” came with all the extras: engine sounds, the captain speaking, cabin lights being dimmed, overhead bins being shut, and warm-up vibrations.
Wilcox said the K9 Flight School staff was knowledgeable about dog behavior and gave good instruction, according to the AP.
“‘If a dog gets nervous, don’t coddle them.’ That’s the same thing we use to raise confident, well-balanced dogs,” Wilcox said.
On Oct. 19, the studio will have its first daylong class, and classes will be held every month or two thereafter, according to the AP. The classes will run $349 per dog and owner.
Via the Associated Press