Ze plane! Ze plane!

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"Ze plane! Ze plane!" (also sometimes quoted as De plane! De 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, "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 SCAN Type 30, a license-built copy of a Grumman Widgeon seaplane,[7] U.S. registry N4453. It was manufactured by the Société Construction Aéro-Navale (aka SCAN) in Rochelle, France in 1951 but not initially completed with engines because of unsatisfactory results achieved previously on other SCAN Type 30 Widgeons with various engines available there. Instead, it was disassembled and stored until 1967 when it was imported into the US, re-assembled, and finally completed using seven cylinder, 300 hp Lycoming model R-680 radial engines in what was called a Mansdorf Gannet conversion.[8][9] It was one of the few Widgeons converted with radial engines, and it is often mistaken for a Grumman Goose. Note however that although it is technically certified under the same FAA type certificate no.A-734 because it was not built actually by Grumman, it is incorrect to identify it as a Grumman Widgeon; it is properly identified as a SCAN Type 30 Widgeon because it was built actually by SCAN.

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 was previously owned by the Ozarks Auto Show, Inc.,[13] a regional antique dealer, of Hollister, Missouri, and was stored in a hangar at the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport near Branson, Missouri along with several other special interest aircraft. The plane was sold at the 38th annual Branson Collector Car Auction on April 16, 2016 to an undisclosed buyer for $275,000.[14]

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.[15][16][17]


  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 Archived October 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., 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. ^ Church, Tim (April 18, 2016). "Branson Car Auction Sells Fantasy Island's "de Plane"". Hometown Daily News. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  15. ^ "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.")
  16. ^ "The Plane, Boss, the Plane!". CFO. Dec 1, 2001. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Ze Plane! Ze Plane! Air Cargo Business Is Losing Ground In Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Oct 28, 1994. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009. 

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