Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blast from the Past - E.E. Lightning

There's nothing quite like it. In collecting stories for Aeroplane's April issue Aircrew feature (on the news stands now) I discovered the many pilot anecdotes were known as WIWOLs (for 'when I was on Lightnings').

As well as revisiting the incredible famous photo of George Aird's accident (an accident photo with thankfully a happy outcome, and featured in Aircrew) there were a range of great bits of video and a sound recording, which I can present here.

On Chris Taylor's blog, is this excellent remix of film set to contemporary (ish) sound:

Scramble over Europe '68 (action series).

It's actually at least in part using some of the same film from a real RAF recruitment film, which had a soundtrack I still can't quite believe is genuine. Streaked Lightning: 'Join the RAF, it's cool and beatnick, with neato gear, chaps.' The film is on the National Archives site in the UK, so pop over for a look here.

This photo is of the Imperial War Museum, Duxford's Lightning. This is an aircraft with an incredible story attached to it, that of engineering officer Wing Commander 'Taffy' Holden's inadvertent flight. You can hear his story in his own words here, thanks to YouTube.

The heading photo is of the dramatically displayed RAF Museum Cosford's example, in the new Cold War gallery there. It's a display that's not to everyone's taste, and definitely there are major flaws with aspects of the curatorial and architectural decisions taken, but it's an impressive and appropriate way to display an aircraft famed for 'Going up!'... The two advertisements are from the ever useful and endlessly fascinating Flight Global archive.

There's more (of course) in the Aircrew feature, excellently illustrated as ever by Ian Bott.

Nothing quite like it, or the men who flew them.


  1. While I love and enjoy the anecdotes, quotes and experiences you include in these features, James, the artwork gets me every time. I'm not a huge jet fan but even those images get me going. Thanks for the link to Ian's website.

  2. Thanks Andy! Ian and I very much enjoy collaborating on Aircrew, and I think it's fair to say we both don't envy the other's research challenge! Finding some of the accounts can be a trick, while Ian has to put together a lot of technical details correctly into a credible but artistic painting. I think you'll like the next (December 2011) Aircrew's subject; Ian's pulled off an amazing skyscape with a remarkable story and an Australian connection.