Author Archives: Historical Aviation Film Unit

UK Tour: Three Lancasters and Another Avro

The next part of our tour featured a trip deeper into ‘Bomber Country’ to see yet another Lancaster (on the ground this time), and possibly a chance to see the two flying Lancasters once again.

East Kirkby Aviation Heritage Centre:  .Lancaster 'Just Jane'

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre: Lancaster ‘Just Jane’

For those non-aviation buffs reading, ‘Bomber Country’ is the generic term that was given to the flat areas of Lincolnshire, Norfolk and the surrounding areas that were the home of many of the RAF’s bomber bases during the Second World War (large heavy bombers requiring much larger and longer runways than the fighter squadrons that were based in the South of England). One bomber, and parts of a base that remain is the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’ which is based at East Kirkby. The aircraft is all but airworthy, and during the summer months it runs up it’s four Rolls Royce Merlin engines, and taxis up and down the strip several times.

East Kirkby:  Lancaster 'Just Jane' running all four Rolls Royce Merlin engines.

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre: Lancaster ‘Just Jane’ running all four Rolls Royce Merlin engines.

If you’re feeling wealthy enough you can even pay to be on board the aircraft as it does its runs. To say that being able to stand in front of four Merlin engines running less than 25m away is cool is certainly an understatement—the sound and the feel of the throbbing engines is just awesome. It was so good in fact that we waited around for a couple of hours just to see the second run of the day as well.

As it is there’s more of East Kirkby than ‘Just Jane’—they have a large display hangar with lots of information about the base, a DC3 aircraft, military vehicles, and a couple of smaller restoration hangars with the remnants of a Wellington bomber, and a Hampden bomber that is slowly being restored. Again, it’s a worthwhile stop for any aviation enthusiast, and certainly has an additional (noisey) attraction that the usual static museum displays can’t boast.

We’d heard through our network of contacts that the following day, there would be a chance to see the two flying Lancasters at the nearby RAF Marham base in Norfolk where the air force were holding a Family Day show on the base.

RAF Marham:  Three Avro bombers in formation - Vulcan flanked by two Lancasters.

RAF Marham: Three Avro bombers in formation – Vulcan flanked by two Lancasters.

Our little birdy also told us that the two Lancs would be accompanied by the only flying Avro Vulcan jet bomber (the same type that bombed the Falkland Islands back in 1982), and that this was likely to be one of the only opportunities to see these three big Avro-built aircraft together in the sky. We knew that most people were going to head to RAF Waddington further north to see the three aircraft take-off, but we hoped that the fact that they were going to be at RAF Marham wasn’t so well known. Turns out it was not a total secret as details of the flight of the three aircraft had been released on the internet the day before, so when we arrived there were already plenty of cars (and photographers) starting to park up in the fields surrounding the base, trying to get a good viewing position. Thankfully while there were quite a few people around (several hundred in our general area perhaps), there was still plenty of room for everyone and we all had a chance to find a good viewing spot.

RAF Marham: Two Lancasters in formation.

RAF Marham: Two Lancasters in formation.

The only blot on the day was the fact that yet again the wind was blowing relatively strongly, and it wasn’t all that warm—the temperature was not really a problem, but the wind does adversely affect us when we’re trying to shoot video. Ah well, we make do with what we get. Around 2:30 the two Lancasters and Vulcan turned up overhead — a very impressive sight, and certainly one that hasn’t been seen before I suspect. Unfortunately the Vulcan only did a single pass and then headed off to the airshow at Clacton further along the coast. The two Lancasters did a somewhat sedate display as they’d done at Shuttleworth last week, but it was still a real treat to see and hear them together again.

Watch out for the video footage on our YouTube channel in a few weeks when we get a chance to edit it up and publish it.

UK Tour: Surprises in Lincolnshire

Having attended the Sywell Great War Airshow on Sunday the 17th, the following day meant that we’d finished our current stay in the Bedforshire area and it was time to head further north once again. This time we were off to Newark-On-Trent for a couple of nights prior to heading to East Kirkby to see the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’ do one of her engine and taxy runs.

View of the church just behind the Newark town square.

View of the church just behind the Newark town square.

Newark turned out to be a pleasant place to stop—it has a laid back relaxed feel to it. After arriving and checking into our (nice) hotel we had a bite to eat at a local cafe, then spent some time strolling around the market that was being held in the town square. As has become somewhat common in the past week or two we then had a beer and meal at a local pub, and that set us up quite nicely for a relaxing evening.

On getting back to  the hotel that evening we discovered a brochure for the local Newark Air Museum and decided that we really needed to stop in there the following morning to check it out. Our first impression upon arriving was that yes, as expected, this was a little back-water aviation museum, of little renown.

Newark Air Museum: North American Super Sabre

Newark Air Museum: North American Super Sabre

Parked on the grass just inside the gate were a Gloster Meteor, and Canberra bomber, both looking a little sad and dejected about spending their retirement outside in the weather. Further into the compound was a Vulcan bomber, and around the back more large aircraft (sitting outside) — another Canberra, Shackleton, Hastings, Lighning fighter, Super Sabre and others—all showing the tell-tale signs of lives outside in the weather, to one degree or another.

Newark Air Museum: Saab Viggen inside on of the unexpectedly impressive display hangars.

Newark Air Museum: Saab Viggen inside one of the unexpectedly impressive display hangars.

Eventually we headed for one of the two nondescript display hangars to see what forlorn displays awaited us inside. This was the first of the surprises for the day! Inside was an impressive collection  of well maintained aircraft and aviation artifacts in a spacious, well lit and well maintained hangar—not what we’d been expecting to find. The second even bigger display hangar was the same, only on a grander scale—a significant number of large aircraft displayed in a great way, in very good conditions.  Turns out our first impressions were wrong and that the Newark Air Museum is a great spot for any aviation enthusiast to while away three or four hours (at the very least) while in the area.

Lincoln: Vast cavernous space within the cathedral.

Lincoln: Vast cavernous space within the cathedral.

Finishing up at the museum we then decided to head to Lincoln for an afternoon of sight-seeing that didn’t involve aircraft.  Driving into the town the first impressive sight was that of the cathedral on top of the hill—certainly a magnificent looking building even from a distance. I’m not sure that we have anything to compare it with in the Antipodes. Eventually we found a carpark, walked through town, and sauntered up (the aptly named) Steep Hill to go and take a look at the cathedral close up. As expected when you’re standing directly underneath the imposing structure it is even more impressive. However, that was nothing compared to walking inside—that was the third surprise for the day. Those of you who have previously been in a building like the Lincoln Cathedral will already understand this, but to those of us who haven’t done it before, stepping inside and experiencing both the vastness of the building, and then the beauty of the stained glass windows as seen from the inside was a revelation.

Lincoln: Stained glass windows as seen form the inside of the cathedral.

Lincoln: Stained glass windows as seen from the inside of the cathedral—it’s a very different view of the windows from that seen form the outside.

All in all it was day of many surprises, so we’re hoping  we have a few more days like this on our trip ahead.

UK Tour: Lancasters, Seen and Not Seen

Finishing up at Woburn Abbey on Saturday (16th), and having checked the weather forecast for the following day, we decided that before heading back to our hotel in Luton we’d quickly head across to Old Warden to see if we could watch the two Lancaster bombers fly over the Flying Proms event being held at Shuttleworth that evening.

Lancaster: The Canadian Lancaster B X FM213 flies overhead at Old Warden prior to the Shuttleworth Collection's Flying Proms evening event.

Lancaster: The Canadian Lancaster B X FM213 flies overhead at Old Warden prior to the Shuttleworth Collection’s Flying Proms evening event.

The reason for this was that while we were planning on seeing the two Lancasters display at the Sywell Airshow the following day, we figured we should make the most of every opportunity to see them, particularly when the weather forecast for Sunday the 17th wasn’t so great. At we got across to Old Warden we found that many locals had also had the same idea, and the narrow country lanes were rapidly becoming full of cars parked up, with people jumping out and looking for a spot in any nearby field to watch the aircraft arrive.

We finally found a spot to park our car, and joined hundreds of others, expectantly waiting to see if the Lancasters would show up. We were not disappointed — it wasn’t long before we could make out the throbbing of eight Rolls Royce Merlin engines steadily approaching. Then, there they were, just over the trees in the distance and rapidly increasing in size as they got ever closer — two magnificent bomber aircraft flying in close formation — for many it was a hair-sticking-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck moment, and given the relatively pleasant evening conditions, a moment that many will remember for a very long time. It was certainly worth the time and effort to make the trip to Old Warden for the evening.

Sywell Great War Airshow: One of the few airworthy remaining ex-RNZAF P-51 Mustang fighters. The example is operated from Hardwick in Norfolk.

Sywell Great War Airshow: One of the few airworthy remaining ex-RNZAF P-51 Mustang fighters. The example is operated from Hardwick in Norfolk.

Unfortunately the following day at the Great War Airshow at Sywell things were not to go so well. Increasingly rough weather during the day mean that the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight decided to cancel their scheduled displays so we didn’t get to see either the two Lancs, or any of the other BBMF aircraff that were set down to display during the show. Despite that there were a number of excellent displays throughout the display, including the Grace Spitfire, the two Hardwick Mustangs, Hurricane, Canberra, Mystery Ship, wing-walkers and many others.

RAF Red Arrows: Four of the Royal Air Force's premier display team, the Red Arrows, churning diesel smoke at the Sywell Airshow.

RAF Red Arrows: Four of the Royal Air Force’s premier display team, the Red Arrows, churning diesel smoke at the Sywell Airshow.

The pinnancle of the show for most, particularly for those of us who have not previously had the chance to see them, was the Royal Air Force’s ‘Red Arrows’ display team. In our opinion they put on a fantastic display, and we’d be very keen to see them again at some point. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.

By the time the Red Arrows had finished up, the weather was beginning to turn again and the crowd started to drift away. Although it had been a very windy day, and quite chilly at times, the flying displays had been well worth watching and it had been an enjoyable event—even if we did miss out on seeing the Lancasters again.  Perhaps we’ll have better luck later in the trip…..

UK Tour: de Havillands Galore

With the Moth Rally to be held at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire on the weekend of the 16th/17th August, once we’d finished on the south coast it was time to head north again ready for a weekend of aerial activity. On our way we made sure to call in at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertfordshire.

Two de Havilland Mosquitos at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum.

Two de Havilland Mosquitos at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum.

Unfortunately we weren’t aware that the museum is only open three days a week, and Friday was not one of them. So if you are planning a visit to the museum make sure you checkout their website carefully and plan on being there on a day that they are official open. Luckily for us there was a small private tour party booked in for a tour about an hour after we arrived, and so we were able to piggy-back on that tour and get a look around the museum anyway. Phew!

de Havilland Air Museum: Trident Cockpit

This volunteer run facility has a number of very interesting de Havilland airframes – Dove 6, Comet and Trident cockpits, Vampire, Sea Vixen, Tiger Moths, Chipmunk and others, but the crown jewels of the collection have to be their three DH.98 Mosquitos. One of these (a bomber variant) is fully restored, while the second, a Mark VI fighter-bomber is nearing the end of her (static) restoration project. The third D.98 airframe is one of the original prototypes, and while there’s a reasonable amount of work to be done on the aircraft yet, it is hoped to have it completed sometime in 2015. Nowhere else in the world can you see three DH.98’s together in one location. As mentioned, the museum is run and stuffed by many volunteers, and as such it does appear to be run on the smell of an oily rag. However a bulk funding grant has just been secured so that a new large hangar can be constructed in the not too distant future and this will enable the collection to be fully housed indoors, which is obviously preferable for any collection of historic aircraft such as this.

Moth Rally:  DH.89a Dragon Rapide.

Moth Rally: DH.89a Dragon Rapide.

The de Havilland theme carried on the following day with our trip to the Moth Rally at Woburn Abbey, which it has to be said, is a magnificently attractive location for an airshow. It also has to be said that we had never seen so many de Havilland’s gathered together in one place before, Gypsy Moth, Hornet Moth, Pus Moth, Tiger Moth, Chipmunk, Dragon Rapid and Dragon amongst others. Unfortunately some high winds meant that a number of practice display flights couldn’t take place, but the Tiger Nine team of nine Tiger Moths did practice their routine for the following day which was a treat – though it may not have been too much fun for them as the conditions were probably classed as ‘challenging’.

One of the highlights of the day was that a staggering eleven Hornet Moths had gathered together for the event. This was the first time for decades that so many of these aircraft had gathered together in one place at the same time, and it was interesting later in the day watching the procession of these aircraft taxi along the road, along to the front to the Abbey itself. All eleven aircraft were parked up in front of the building for a historic photo shoot – 2014 being the 70th anniversary of the debut of the Hornet Moth.

Despite the windy conditions, it was great to finally see some aircraft in the air – the first time we’ve managed that during the tour so far! Things can only get better.

UK Tour: Back To Dry Land


From the ships of the Royal Navy we next turned our attention to the ‘land ships’ developed since 1917 and headed off in the direction of the Bovington Tank Museum.

The A7V - the only type of tank built by the Germans during World War One to see operational use (between March and October 1918).

The A7V – the only WW1 German tank to see operational use (between March and October 1918).

Yet again this is a very well presented museum and collection, and is well worth a visit if you’re in the general (southern) area. While the museum space is packed with over 150 tanks, armoured cars and other military vehicles from the First World War through to the first Gulf War, there’s plenty of room to wander around each of the vehicles to get a good look at them, and in some cases (e.g. the WW1 tanks) you can even walk through them to get a feel for the cramped interiors that tank crews have had to put up with since they were first designed.

A German King Tiger tank.

A German King Tiger tank.

The collection at Bovington is certainly impressive in both size and scope. While there’s a good collection of the tanks that many people would be king to see such as the Sherman, Churchill, Tiger, King Tiger, Centurion, Panzer and so on, there’s also a number of different vehicles which are also quite interesting – the Thornycroft Concrete Moving Pillbox, a small Italian tracked flamethrower, a WW2 Japanese tank and many others.

Leopard tank (at high speed) in the Bovington Arena.

Leopard tank (at high speed) in the Bovington Arena.

One of the highlights of a trip to the Tank Museum at the right time of the year is to see them running some of their vehicles in their outdoor arena. During our visit we were treated to seeing the museums replica WW1 tank (originally built for the Steven Speilberg move ‘War Horse’) rattle around at it’s top speed of 3mph. Thereafter we were treated to noisey and loud demonstrations by several tracked scout and personnel carriers, and then the Centurion and Leopard tanks. Having a chance to see these big battle tanks of the Cold War era running up close is great and it certainly compliments the static exhibits inside the museum — it makes it a lot easier to get a sense of what each of the older tanks must have looked and sounded like in their day.

The Tank Museum also features other types of military vehicles, such as these armoured cars.

The Tank Museum also features other types of military vehicles, such as these armoured cars.

Once again Bovington is one of the museums that offers a twelve month entry ticket, and so there’s no doubt that I’ll be back here again during the summer of 2015 to take a look at all those vehicles that I didn’t get a chance to see in detail during this (first) visit. Highly recommended for anyone even vaguely interested in military vehicles, tracked or otherwise.

UK Tour: We’re All At Sea

Having travelled north to take a look at the RAF Museum at Cosford, the next part of the tour was a trip back down to the south coast to Portsmouth to take a look around the Historic Dockyard area.

Nelson's flagship at teh Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

HMS Victory: Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

One of the main attractions of the area for us was HMS Victory — the flagship of Nelson’s British fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and so as soon as we arrived we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed down to see the ship. Having been built in the middle of the 18th Century, Victory is now over 250 years old and is one of the oldest wooden ships still in existence. Being able to have a good look around the ship both inside and out, and to get a feel for what the living, working and fighting conditions on one of these huge ships of the line was like was fascinating. It’s certainly well worth a visit if you’re in southern England.

A Coastal Bombardment vessel which served at Galipolli in 1915.

HMS M.33: A Coastal Bombardment vessel which served at Gallipoli in 1915.

The following day we spent quite a bit of time looking around a number of the other exhibits in the Historic Dockyard area. First up was HMS M.33, a coastal bombardment vessel that served at Gallipoli in 1915 – it’s a striking little ship in her geometric ‘dazzle’ camouflage, and a good reminder that many military sailors spent much of their working lives on small vessels rather than the larger naval warships.

HMS Alliance is a Royal Navy A-class, Amphion-class or Acheron-class submarine, laid down towards the end of the Second World War and completed in 1947. The submarine is the only surviving example of the class, having been a memorial and museum ship since 1981.

HMS Alliance: a Royal Navy A-class, Amphion-class or Acheron-class submarine, laid down near the end of the WW2 and completed in 1947. This is the only surviving example of the class, having been a memorial and museum ship since 1981.

A trip across the harbour on the Water Bus for a look around the Royal Naval Submarine Museum at Gosport is also worthwhile, and that was our next port of call. Be aware that the ferry only crosses once per hour, and that it’s limited to 74 passengers, so if you’re keen to check out the subs, make sure you get in the queue early, or you’ll need to wait much longer (I can tell you that from hard earned experience!). Once you’re there you can check out HMS Alliance from both the inside and out, and again it’s fascinating to see the conditions that the submariners lived and worked in on this submarine during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60s. Also at the museum is the Holland 1 (the Royal Navy’s first submarine) and a WW2 midget submarine both exhibits are do well and give you a chance to see what the interior of each vessel is like.

Built in 1860 the HMS Warrior was the first all iron hulled vessel of the Royal Navy.

HMS Warrior: Built in 1860 the Warrior was the first all iron hulled vessel of the Royal Navy.

Once we were back across the harbour to the Historic Dockyard, the next ship to wander around and through was HMS Warrior. This ship built in 1860 was the first iron clad warship of the Royal Navy, and it’s a fantastic exhibit and well worth looking around. Powered by both steam and sail, and heavily armoured and armed (for a frigate class ship) at the time there was nothing else like it afloat. It’s interesting to compare and contrast the Warrior with the Victory. There are many similarities between the two ships which were built over 100 years apart, but there re many evolutionary changes in the Warrior, such as the armoured platting, the breech loading guns, and the steam powered engines that make it a great ship to visit in its own right — don’t miss it if you’re in Portsmouth.

Unfortunately our stay in Portsmouth was all too short, and we didn’t have a chance to look around the Mary Rose, the flagship of Henry the VIII’s fleet that sank in the Solent (the straits north of the Isle of Wight) while leading an attack on the galleys of a French invasion fleet in 1545. However one of the great features of a number of English museums is that the tickets you purchase are valid for 12 months — given that I’m gong to be back in the UK during the 2015 summer I’ll certainly be making a point of heading to Portsmouth again to have another good look around the Historic Dockyard.

UK Tour: Getting Into The Swing Of Things


Airbus A380, over France.

I mentioned in our last blog post that our 2014 UK Tour is probably going to be pretty hectic, and we’ve certainly found that it has been over the first few days of the tour. After a gruelling 29 hour flight half way around the world, and a couple of days spent getting over the jet lag, our tour began late last week, and we’ve now more or less found our feet and have been getting organised. We’ve already had the chance to attend a show and visit several museums that were on our ‘To Do’ lists — hopefully we’re now at the point where we can make more frequent updates here and keep you all up to date with what we’re up to on the tour.


Lancaster bomber at Royal Air Force Museum, London

A visit to the R.A.F. Museum in London on Saturday the 9th August was an enjoyable way to get into the swing of things. For those who have not been here before it was interesting to find that we had to pay for the car parking, but that entry to the museum itself was free. That’s certainly a great way to encourage visitors to the facility, and we’re sure that we’ll make a repeat visit if we can fit it in. It was great to be able to spend a bit of time looking around the museum’s Avro Lancaster — this being hopefully the first of four Lancasters that we’ll get to see during this trip. The only disappointment with the trip to Hendon was that the Grahame White building which houses the bulk of the World War One aircraft collection was closed. It’s currently being refurbished in order to re-open before Armistice Day (11th November) this year, though it does seem an odd timetable when it is now essentially the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One — we expected that the refurbishment would have been completed well before now.


Thunderclouds over Shuttleworth

One of the highlights of our trip was to be the WW1 Commemoration Airshow at Shuttleworth on the 10th of august, but unfortunately the remnants of Hurricane Bertha made landfall in the UK on Sunday and the show was essentially cancelled. There was a hardy crowd of 500-600 people who turned up early (before the cancellation), and they were treated to a tour through the hangars to look at the various aircraft amongst other things. Given the relatively small size of the crowd a number did come and find us to grab copies of our book and DVD — was nice to meet up with some fellow enthusiasts.

BAC TSR-2 at RAFM Cosford

BAC TSR-2 at RAF Museum Cosford

On the 11th we headed north into the Midlands and that enabled us to have a quick look around the R.A.F. Museum at Cosford, which is a great compliment to the museum in London. Don’t think that just because you’ve seen one, you seen them all — the aircraft collection at both museums is quite different (Cosford specialises in post war jet aircraft), and each is worth a visit in it’s own right.

Tomorrow it’s back down to the south coast, and hopefully some slightly warmer weather.  🙂

Watch this space….


Allan & Alex

Join Us For Our 2014 UK Tour

We’re taking the Historical Aviation Film Unit on the road during our usual off-season this year, and we’re visiting the UK in August and early September.

Shuttleworth F2b.jpgIt would be great if you’d join us, virtually of course, for the tour.  You can follow along with what we’re doing and where we are by keeping an eye on our Facebook at, on our Twitter feed at, and here on this Blog. We’ll be posting updates of where we are, and where we’re headed next, photos, and hopefully a few video clips as well. 

During the four-five week tour period we’ll be attending a number of weekend shows, and then mid-week we’ll travel to a variety of other collections, museums and locations so we can shoot and gather content for our Online Video Channel (, and for a couple of other projects we’re working on.


Our schedule will be hectic (particularly during the week), but we’re keen to meet up with anyone in the UK who’s keen to say hello — let us know if you’ll be at any of the events we’ll be at (see the list below). If you think you might be on our route from one place to another, let us know, you never know when we might just be passing through your neck of the woods and need to stop for a drink and a chat!

If anyone has any suggestions for any museums, collections, or airfields with interesting aircraft (or vehicles) that you think we should visit during our whirlwind trip, please let us know by posting a comment below, or email us.

Our Current Event Schedule  (subject to change if the weather’s no good)


  • Sunday 10th – Shuttleworth WW1 Airshow
  • Monday 11th – BRF Deployment Commemorations Dover/Arras
  • Wednesday 13th – HMS Victory – Portsmouth
  • Thursday 14th – Bovington Tank Museum
  • Saturday 16th – Moth Club Tiger Rally, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire
  • Sunday 17th – Sywell Airshow
  • Thursday 21st – North Yorkshire steam railway
  • Sunday 24th – Little Granston Airshow
  • Monday 25th – Military Odyssey, The Kent Show Ground, Detling
  • Friday 29th – Steam Gala, Norfolk
  • Saturday 30th – Steam Gala, Norfolk
  • Sunday 31st – Shuttleworth Edwardian Picnic & evening airshow.


  • Saturday 6th – Victory Show, Cosby, Leicestershire
  • Sunday 7th – Shuttleworth Pageant, or possibly Stow Maries Fly in


Best regards and hope to see some of you soon,

Alex & Allan

Historical Aviation Film Unit


Walk a mile in my shoes – and don’t talk to me!

Copyright © Graham Meiklejohn

Photo courtesey and © Graham Meiklejohn

I’ve been filming events for other people for almost 15 years now, and the one thing that I’ve discovered is that virtually no-one has any respect or sympathy for the poor old cameraman (yes, or woman), hard at work trying to shoot footage so that someone else can enjoy the event (on video) at some point in the future.

In many ways that’s not too surprising as few people actually use their video cameras for anything more than short family shots at birthdays and Christmas—as such there’s no general awareness of what an event camera-person actually does, and what issues they have to face. This means that more often than not the job is more difficult than it needs to be, simply because few people have the ability to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’.

At aviation events I’m there to film the aircraft. Others like many of my esteemed colleagues are there to take still photographs, while lots of enthusiasts are there just to enjoy the sights and sounds of the aircraft flying past. And therein lies the crux of the matter — for me it’s all about movement and sound — movies and talkies if you will. But the issue is that it’s not just for me, if it were I’d simply put the camera down and enjoy the show like everyone else.

The thing is, I’m there to try and record the action as it unfolds, and as far as aviation (and motorsport) is concerned, the sound is hugely important — you can shoot brilliant video footage, but if it’s silent, or if the audio is really bad, no-one likes it or wants to watch it. On the other-hand average footage, with great sound is usually reasonably pleasant to watch and hear.

Sometimes I just can’t avoid getting rubbishy sound. A great example of this was when I shot Jerry Yagen’s de Havilland Mosquito (KA114) landing at Ardmore Airport in New Zealand after its maiden flight.  Just as the aircraft touched down and rolled out past me along the runway, a small twin-engine commuter airliner was taxying in the opposite direction, so rather than capturing the magic of twin Rolls-Royce Merlins, all I got to hear was the high pitched whine of two modern engines.  Not the best, but thankfully I managed to shoot another landing, and we did capture the Merlin magic. But sometimes, it’s just not feasible or even possible to get a second bite at the cherry.

But more often than not, the problem is that I can’t get sufficiently far away from either the stills photographers whose cameras are continually going click-click-click-click-click as they’re shooting images, or from members of the general public who are just having a good time and chatting as the aircraft are flying by. All very well and good, shoot your photos and have a great time, but please, Please, PLEASE — if I (or any other event cameraman) politely asks you if you can either move away a bit, stop following me when I move, or just stop laughing and talking quite so loudly as the aircraft flies past, I would really really appreciate it.  And I’m pretty sure that anyone else with a video camera nearby will as well.

In the main, most people are reasonably OK with it when I explain that it’s really important that I get good sound, and could they perhaps just quieten down a little, thanks very much. But you’d be surprised at the number of arrogant sods that I’ve come across, who despite my major efforts to be very polite about it, take it as a huge affront, and think that they’re fully entitled to jabber away wherever and whenever they want.  I guess in general they are. But I bet that these will also be some of the first to complain when they spend their hard earned cash on a DVD to watch some airshow event, and instead of great audio all they hear is someone in the crowd commenting on how much better they could fly the aircraft.

A couple of years back I was filming at a New Zealand airshow, as part of the official photo/video team. Just as I was trying to film a very rare aircraft make a final approach and landing, one of the show’s security volunteers rode up to me on a quad bike. He sat their idling, not more than three meters from me to watch the aircraft come in.  When I asked him if he could switch the bike off he actually got quite abusive, despite the fact that I tried to point out that I was there, like him, to do a job for the show organisers, and his presence with his motorbike was making it impossible for me to do the job to the best of my ability. Really?  Are you serious? Could you be any more arrogant? In this case he could, because he did an almost identical thing the day after the airshow finished when I was trying to get some final shots of another rare aircraft starting up! As Jim Morrison and the Doors said back in the 60’s, ‘People Are Strange’.

So what about it?  The next time you’re at an airshow or similar, taking photos, or just having a good time, and you see someone with a video camera not far away, trying to shoot the action, just put yourself in their shoes. If you’re clicking a camera and you have the opportunity and ability to move to a slightly different position further away and yet still get the types of shots you’re after, then why not do that?  Or if you’re talking to your mates, have a bit of consideration and try and do it quietly, or better yet move away 20 or 30 meters — it’s not going to make a big difference to your enjoyment of the display you’re watching in most cases, but it’ll likely make a huge difference to the poor sod that’s trying to film it.

And do bear in mind that for a cameraman, it’s the sound of the aircraft (or vehicle) coming towards you, or heading away from you at a distance which is probably more important than when it’s whizzing past your face.  By the time it’s coming right past you the chances are the volume of the noise is sufficently loud to drown out other nearby sounds. But it’s the quieter sound of the aircraft approaching, and moving away, that’s really important to a video editor.

It’s all about common courtesy really.  If you don’t click your camera or talk inanely near me, then I won’t shoot some video of you doing something really stupid and then post it on the internet!  🙂

Keep an eye on this blog — in a few weeks we’ll be covering our 2014 HAFU UK tour in great detail as it happens — we’d love you to join us on our journey to some of England’s great airshow events and museums.

All the best,









Introducing The HAFU Blog

Hi all,

While the Historical Aviation Film Unit has been in existence since 2007, we’ve not previously been too concerned about the idea of ‘blogging’, preferring instead that our photos and video footage tell our story.  However, things change and so we’re starting this addition to our web presence so that we have an outlet to connect with those of you who wish to read what we have to say.

If you’re not overly familiar with this type of blog you should remember that you can click the ‘Follow’ button in the lower right hand corner of this window to sign up and subscribe—that means that you’ll get an email notification whenever we add a new post to our blog.

So join us now, and watch this space!

Best Regards,

Allan Udy  (videographer) and Alex Mitchell (chief photographer)