Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Director Howard Hawks in Aviation

Howard Hawks, the notable US golden-age film director had trained in the US' Army to go to Europe as a squadron commander, but the war ended before he went overseas. He had other stories of his experiences later, including this one, taken here from the website 'Parallax View', of a 1976 interview with Hawks.

"One critic said that usually I was pretty much to be relied on, but when I made a picture called Only Angels Have Wings, now that was just too much for anybody to believe. I wrote him a letter and said that—I kept a copy of this letter and I’m thinking of publishing this letter—every single thing in that picture was absolutely true, there wasn’t anything I invented. I invented how to use it. I got back a very nice letter.

"The whole story was about … I was down in Mexico hunting with a bush pilot. You know, there weren’t any landing fields; they land anywhere. He had some homemade things that he dropped, and smoke would come out, and he could see which way the wind was blowing. And we’d go down and land and run our wheels on the ground to see whether it was mushy and marshy or what. And I went to dinner, and there was a guy there whose face had been burned in flying. All scarred. No expression on his face. Just talked to ya—nothing happened on his face. There was the cutest girl. The dinner was for a pilot and this girl. They were married, and they met in exactly the same way that the two people in Only Angels Have Wings met. And the only thing I couldn’t use was the fact that the fellow with the burnt face got up and said, “A year ago tonight you were married. You went to bed about ten minutes to two. You got up at two o’clock. There was a pause of about 15 minutes, then you repeated this thing,” and the girl said, “Damn you, you were peeking!” And they brought out a German machine used to keep the hours on flying; and it recorded when the motor started on a scroll, it recorded the takeoff run and recorded in the air, change of altitude, and landing bumps, so that they had a complete record of the time. And he’d hung it under their bed. Instead of being angry, the girl was so pleased and so proud of it, she put it up over the fireplace…."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Small World of DITC

Today's November 11. I generally don't set out to do anything in particular on this day, or Anzac day either, given that what I do most of the year involves a good degree of sharing military history. But I often end up doing something appropriate anyway as part of the normal run of things.

Today was a pretty special day. Volunteering at the RAAF Museum we had a tour with the DITC (Defence International Training Centre). The DITC's own definition of its role is "... to provide training and support that enhances Defence cooperation and cross cultural awareness between members of the Australian Defence Organisation and foreign militaries."

We get a remarkable range of officers from militaries literally all over the world (today from as close as Papua New Guinea, and as far as Holland, as well as Pakistan, China, India, Vietnam, and many more). We had army, navy, air force and one marines officer.

Experience was diverse. One officer had trained at the Empire Test Pilot's School, Boscombe Down, in the UK, one of the real elite pilot training schools, and had been mentored by one of the ETPS instructors who just happens to also be a pilot for The Shuttleworth Collection, thus someone I know, and today's 'small world' moment.

Pointing out the RAAF Museum's DHC Caribou on display, I was able to tell them that this actual aircraft, in its 45 years of service, had operated in several of their countries (from memory it had operated in Pakistan for the UN, Vietnam during the war there, and Papua New Guinea on many humane works).

If we can facilitate better understanding, experiences and co-operation between so many countries, as well as highlighting the cost of military history, then that is a good thing. There's a good chunk of 'lest we forget' here, but also works for building for a better future.

Friday, July 11, 2014

It's not all work...

For last Sunday's Interactive Flying Display at the RAAF Museum, I was lucky enough to get a flight down from closer to home thanks to a ride in Matt Henderson's CT-4. We were led in formation by Murray Wallace in his CT-4, with Barry Maclean as passenger.

This shot was taken as we ran in over RAAF Point Cook, with the museum's external-store aircraft* below, and the base water-tower and parade ground further up, the You-Yang hills on the horizon.

*L-R Bristol Freighter, C-130E, C-130H, HS 748 & DHC Caribou.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

That Grumman Duck Flying

I remember cutting this together on VHS video from the film, because it was one of the best bits of warbird stunt flying ever, and it was one of my all time favourites - the Grumman J2F Duck. Thanks to Roger Soupart for bringing this bit of online film to my - and now our - attention.

Many years after playing with it in analogue movie form, I came across a set of magnificent 35 mm slides from the filming of the Duck in Frank Tallman's hands at the British Film Archive library off Totenham Court Road, London. Despite eye-watering repro costs we ran a selection in 'Airside' a Warbirds Worldwide special issue. Great days.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

Greetings to all my Canadian friends, far and wide. Have a great day!

'Hawk One' the Canadair Sabre operated by Vintage Wings of Canada seen at the Canadian Warplane Heritage's base of Hamilton, Ontario in 2012. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Spitfire R6915 returns to IWM Lambeth

A neat video showcasing one of the most historically-significant surviving Spitfires (Battle of Britain veteran R6915, in original later-war colours and configuration) on the occasion of its return to the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth, UK. I'm delighted to note it's narrated by Andy Robinson, IWM Conservator. Andy's one of the most highly knowledgeable authorities on aircraft conservation I've had the privilege of knowing.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Take 2: LVG C.VI

 After the retirement from active flying of the LVG C.VI in the UK*, the loss of the type from the air is to be replaced shortly by the magnificent work of the French Memorial Flight with the completion and forthcoming flight of their detailed example.  See more on their website, here.

[Images from the Memorial Flight blog.]

*Owned by the RAF Museum, LVG C.VI 71984, C/No 4503, was registered as G-AANJ and operated, flying, for many years by the Shuttleworth Collection, before the RAF Museum requested its return.  It is now stored at Cosford, awaiting restoration.