Filming and Flying

On two occasions Mike was involved in making films about motor racing.   In 1966 he worked with the director John Frankenheimer as a consultant on the film “Grand Prix” and in the summer of 1970 he spent most of July and August at Le Mans, as a consultant and driver for the film “Le Mans” in which the leading actor was Steve McQueen (for whom Mike negotiated the purchase of a Ferrari).


Mike had grown up being flown around in aeroplanes by his father, who was an enthusiastic pilot and owned a vintage De Havilland Leopard Moth, so it was not surprising that at a certain point he decided to learn to fly. He started taking flying lessons with instructor Danilo Billi at Modena Aero Club in October 1965, on an M.B. 308.  On December 12th 1965 he made his first solo flight.  By July 9th 1966 he had accumulated enough flying time and experience to gain an Italian pilot’s licence.  The next step, in the summer of 1966, was to buy his own plane, a twin-engined Beechcraft Baron (N1365Z) which he dearly loved; in fact, he continued to fly it until his death in 1977.  In February and March 1970 (in between racing at Daytona and Sebring) he attended the Burnside-Ott Aviation Training Centre in Florida to acquire an instrument rating and in April 1970 he also passed a commercial flight test. 
From 1966 onwards he used his plane for flights in Italy and all over Europe, for leisure and business purposes and to get to and from racetracks.  In fact, flying was his principal hobby activity in the little time left free from work.  He also flew in the United States and Kenya.