Aviation News

July 12, 2013

#AvGeek Review: The New “Airplane Repo”

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By: Jason Rabinowitz
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What is real and what is fake? "Select dramatizations employed"
What is real and what is fake? "Select dramatizations employed"
In 2010, a new reality show called Airplane Repo hit basic cable, giving the public an intimate look into the mysterious world of repossessing airplanes. The original three episodes, which aired in late 2010 and early 2011, followed Nick Popovich and his crew around the world, as they repossessed anything from business jets to a duo of Airbus A320s in Turkey. The original three episodes came across genuine and realistic, albeit low budget.

Fast forward to mid 2013, and the show has taken on a new life. Airplane Repo has been completely retooled, sporting an entire new cast and a much higher budget from the looks of things. Nick Popovich has been replaced with three separate repo crews, and the show extended from 30 minutes to a full hour. So, is the show any better or worse, and how are the #AvGeeks liking the new version of the show?

From the very moment the show opened up, it was clear that the format had been changed drastically. Airplane Repo has more of a drama feel to it, like you might find on shows such as Storage Wars or one of the many pawn store shows. The show starts at an “undisclosed airport” in Florida, as text tells the viewer “Mike Kennedy is about to steal a plane.” A quick cut, and we see a jet fully outfitted with exterior cameras take off, but quickly encounters mechanical problems. The problem seems to grow more severe with every second as an audible warning is artificially sped up, and suddenly we are taken back to the beginning of the story, left waiting to see what happens until the end of the show.

Over the next 60 minutes, a wide variety of aircraft are targeted for repossession. In the prior version of the show, typically one crew hunted down one plane. This first episode saw the repossession of a Beechcraft Barron 58, Cessna 206, and Learjet, which made for an interesting mix of aircraft. Some of the scenes along the way, however, just did not feel quite right.

After discovering one of the target aircraft in a hangar they seemingly broke into, the repo crew turns on the lights, but somehow the show already has several cameras located up high, capturing this moment. This would be the first of several moments that felt staged, possibly to create the illusion of suspense. While there are scenes that do seem to be quite genuine, highly dramatized scenes make it difficult to discern what is fake, and what is indeed real.

At the end of the episode, we are once again put in the cockpit of the ailing Learjet. There is some sort of hydraulic system fault, and the flight crew declares an emergency. The gear wont deploy, so they are manually dropped, but return only one green light and two red on the indicator. After doing a low pass over the runway to confirm that the gear is down, they land safely, and the aircraft is theirs.

While it is great to see Airplane Repo back on the air, it is most certainty a different show. The old version appealed more to the #AvGeek crowd, while the new version is probably looking to hit the same audience as Operation Repo. The retooling of the show, however, will attract a wider audience that may just help it stick around this time. So, what did you think of the new episode? New episodes air Thursday at 10pm on Discovery.


  • Wayne Sherman

    Hey, how about the unarmed “cop” driving the 10 year old unmarked “cop” car?

  • Lawrence

    Remind me to NEVER loan tools, especially to a tattooed jerkoff. Do you think they could have used some of those thousands and thousands of repo dollars to buy the guy a new bolt cutter? By the way – what brand was that bolt cutter? It seems to stand up to a great deal of abuse.

  • John Cloud

    If you watched the Popovich (sp?) episodes, the key point was that once they found the plane and posted repossession notice on it, it was “theirs”. They didn’t have to steal them or have fist fights, they were the legal owners of the plane. The new series makes a total abortion of the process. I suspect that Nick Popovich is more than irritated at all of this!

  • MattBillingsley

    I liked season 1, it was reality. The new season is ok, it’s scripted, and it’s poorly delivered. The stories & planes are cool, but whoever decided to include yacht repo’s on the show probably needs to take a class on the different kinds of vehicles, how airplanes fly in the air, and/or how boats float in the water, etc.. .

  • Cameron Nicholas Leggett

    Kevin Lacey, is one of the recovery agents in the new show. As of 2010 he was working with, or for, Sage-Popovich, INC. http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/Grab-the-Airplane-and-Go.html This makes me wonder if he’s since left SP INC or if Nick didn’t want his name directly on the retooled show, thus showing just Lacey. I’ve seen a few episodes of the new season and the parts that feel “real” are Lacey’s segments. But the way things are edited still leaves a bad taist in my mouth.