Liberty Belle Jump Just One Of Many Thrills For Local Stuntman
Following the crash of the World War II era B-17 bomber – the Liberty Belle – last week, Jeff Habberstad – a stunt and second unit coordinator for movies and television shows – released several photos to KHTS capturing the jump he made with his father John out of the bomb bay doors of the Flying Fortress.
The jump was made three years ago over Gardiner Airport in New York while Habberstad was shooting “The Last Airbender” in Philadelphia.
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A resident of Santa Clarita, Habberstad has worked on a large array of films including “Jarhead,” “Spider-Man” and “The Sixth Sense.” As the coordinator of stunts and the second unit – a group that shoots independently from the one shooting the main actors – Habberstad hires stunt people and oversees the action sequences of TV and film productions.
With a job description that includes jumping out of planes and creating massive explosions, Habberstad said he views his career as a realization of what he had always imagined for himself.
“It’s a great job and a dream come true,” Habberstad said. “I get to help design huge action sequences and the coolest part is seeing them come to fruition on the big screen.”
Early in his career, Habberstad was awarded “Best Aerial Stunt” for the television series “The Fall Guy” in 1985 and has gone on to receive four Emmy nominations, winning in 2003 for his work as the stunt coordinator for the TV series, “Alias.”
Habberstad said he has always been an adventurous person, and a career as a stunt man naturally fit into his interests and his lifestyle.
“I was an active-outdoorsy type of kid,” Habberstad said. “I was skydiving after high school and started doing everything I could do to find stunt work such as meeting stunt coordinators. I got a lot of aerial type jobs such as ‘Point Break’ and ‘Terminal Velocity.’”
Habberstad is not the only one from his family involved in the stunt industry. His wife Debbie, his sons Shane and Trevor and his daughter Allie have all done stunt work, according to Habberstad.
“The whole family has done it. Allie has done quite a few jobs such as ‘Planet of the Apes’ and my son Shane was in ‘Spider-Man.’ Trevor – the oldest – is working as a stunt man and my wife Debbie has worked on a lot of movies and doubled the girl on ‘Men in Black.’ It is a family business,” Habberstad said.
Habberstad also said his son Shane has recently been accepted to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts after attending Santa Barbara Community College this past year.
In regards to the opportunity he had to jump out of the Liberty Belle three years ago, Habberstad said he was appreciative of the chance he was given and was disappointed to hear about the demise of the old airplane.
“Me and my dad are both skydivers and I was working on a movie in Philadelphia nearby where the Liberty Belle was going to visiting for a few days. A friend of mine invited me to jump out of it and I told my Dad. It’s insane how much work [the crew] has done on those things to get them flying. I feel bad for them.
Habberstad is continuing his work as a stunt and second unit coordinator, with his most recent work on “X: Men: First Class” and “This Means War,” set to release this summer.