Ze plane! Ze plane!

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"Ze plane! Ze plane!" (also sometimes quoted as Da plane! Da plane! or The plane! The plane!) is a cultural reference to the typical opening of Fantasy Island, a television series which aired in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Each episode began with the diminutive Tattoo (played by Hervé Villechaize), one of the main characters, spotting the seaplane approaching the island and running up a tower and excitedly yelling, with a French accent, "Ze Plane! Ze Plane!" and ringing a bell. [1][2][3][4][5][6]

The actual plane[edit]

The actual aircraft used in the series was a Grumman Widgeon seaplane,[7] U.S. registry N4453. It was manufactured in France under license from Grumman with 200 hp engines which were later replaced with seven cylinder 300 hp Lycoming radial engines in what was called a Masandorf conversion.[8][9] It was one of the few Grumman Widgeons manufactured with radial engines, and it is often mistaken for a Grumman Goose.

It was rented from a local charter company by a contract production company, and almost all of the footage of the plane used throughout the series and films was shot in one day and recycled over the entire run. During the filming of the actual episodes, the guests climbed out of a paper-mache and plywood mock-up of the back of the plane.

Ze Plane! Ze Plane as it appeared January 2008 flying over the Ozark Mountains and Table Rock Lake near Berryville Arkansas

Prior to being owned by the charter company, the plane belonged to author Richard Bach, which he mentions briefly in his book The Bridge Across Forever (although he does not mention the television series by name, he makes it clear from the context that he is indeed talking about Fantasy Island).[10] The aircraft was later rented or sold to parties who later used it to smuggle drugs into the United States, and it crashed in a swamp on at least one occasion. It was confiscated by the DEA and sold by the U.S. Marshals Service at auction. It again fell into the hands of other drug smugglers and was eventually confiscated and sold again. It was involved in a gear collapse accident in the 1990s and repainted deep red, so it is not as recognizable as Ze Plane of the television series when it was painted white.[11] Ze Plane! Ze Plane! has at times been on display on the airshow circuit in the American Midwest,[12] and is currently owned by the Ozarks Auto Show, Inc.,[13] a regional antique dealer, of Hollister, Missouri, and is stored in a hangar at the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport near Branson, Missouri along with several other special interest aircraft.

Cultural references[edit]

In 1992, Hervé Villechaize referenced his famous catchphrase in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial, where he requested "De plain! De plain! Donuts!"[1][2]

The phrase is also commonly used in many other contexts, such as articles about dwarfs and aircraft.[14][15][16]


  1. ^ a b Farkas, Anna. The Oxford Dictionary of Catchphrases p.59 (Paperback ed. 2003) (ISBN 978-0198607359)
  2. ^ a b Snierson, Dan (Aug 22, 1997). "The Suicide Of A Sidekick". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. ("The hit show turned Villechaize into a larger-than-life character thanks to his catchphrase, 'De plane! De plane!'")
  3. ^ "Herve Villechaize; Actor, 50, Commits Suicide at His Home". The New York Times. Sep 6, 1993. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. ("Herve Villechaize, the diminutive actor whose shout, "The plane! The plane!" greeted arriving guests on the television show "Fantasy Island," died Saturday at his home in Los Angeles.")
  4. ^ "More Than Fantasies Come True on 'Fantasy Island'". The Ledger. Feb 9, 1980. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. ("Every Saturday night, millions of television watchers sit down and watch a little man less than four feet tall run up into a belfry, ring a bell three times, and excitedly announce 'The Plane. The Plane.'")
  5. ^ "'De Plane.' Is Deleted From 'Fantasy Island' Script". The Miami Herald. Aug 19, 1983. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. (" 'De plane. De plane.' — one of the more familiar cries on prime-time television — will be heard no more this fall. For 5½ years, a midget named Tattoo used those words to announce the arrival of guests on "Fantasy Island.")
  6. ^ "Ham-fisted Fantasy Island offensive and laughable". Waterloo Region Record. Sep 8, 2007. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. ("his diminutive sidekick -- given to frenzied exclamations of 'De plane! De plane!'")
  7. ^ GRUMMAN G-44 WIDGEON, WeLoveSeaplanes.com, Accessed 2009-10-7
  8. ^ Les Ailes Québécoises Les Ailes Québécoises Forum, Mar 27, 2005
  9. ^ Seaplane Pilots Association Seaplane Pilots Association Forum July 31, 2001
  10. ^ Bach, Richard, The Bridge Across Forever p.182 (1989)(ISBN 978-0440108269)("She would become a television-star airplane, opening each episode of a wildly popular TV series")
  11. ^ Seawings, the Flying Boat Site The Flying Boat Forum November 12, 2008
  12. ^ Airliners.net, Picture of the SCAN 30 (G-44A Widgeon) aircraft ("Grumman Widgeon, originally used as "da plane" in the TV series "Fantasy Island" on display at Airfest 2003.")
  13. ^ FAA Registry N4453
  14. ^ "Little people get short shrift". The Sydney Morning Herald. May 12, 2007. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. ("Not since Fantasy Island and those immortal words "The plane, boss, the plane!" have dwarfs enjoyed such televisual prominence.")
  15. ^ "The Plane, Boss, the Plane!". CFO. Dec 1, 2001. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Ze Plane! Ze Plane! Air Cargo Business Is Losing Ground In Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Oct 28, 1994. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009.