A helicopter pilot from Nashville is currently en route to Antarctica where he will harass Japanese whaling ships for the next season of Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars.”
Roger Danner will be taking off from a ship as it’s rolling in the stormy Antarctic Ocean. His jet engine-powered McDonnell Douglas 500 will be hooked to the deck, then practically pogo into the air.
“The helicopter wants to fly, but it’s strapped to the pad. So when I push this little red button, it launches me off the pad like a bottle rocket.”
It’s the most dangerous job on the show, Danner says. He’ll be flying 70 miles out over icy waters searching for whaling vessels. He’ll wear a protective suit that – if he goes down – would keep him from hypothermia for six hours, though Danner notes it could take longer than that to retrieve him.
Danner considers himself a conservationist, though not to the extent of the so-called Sea Shepherds who’ve made a life of trying to slow down whalers.
“Yeah, they might be a little more overboard and committed than I am. I’m all for the whales, but at the same time, I don’t want to die either.”
Danner owns Helicorp based in Nashville. He’s the son of Ray Danner, who is the “D” in Captain D’s and co-founder of the Shoney’s Restaurant chain.