Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mark Hanna 1959 - 1999

Following the recent post of Mark Hanna's article on flying for the Empire of the Sun film in Warbirds Worldwide, [here] I thought it might be appropriate to give a bit of background.

Mark Hanna was the son of the legendary Ray Hanna, ex-Red Arrows leader and doyen of warbird pilots. After service in the RAF, Mark joined his father in the Old Flying Machine Company and with a core of staff and a variety of interesting aircraft operated in displays across the UK, and occasionally Europe - and even Ray's native New Zealand. Additionally, they undertook a huge number of contracts flying for the screen - film, TV and even advertising. Given the ephemeral nature of these events, the story behind the film is often lost, but as seen in the Empire article, the story of the filming can be fascinating.

Mark was one of the most enjoyable warbird pilots to watch when he was operating warbirds, but it seems that his preference extended more to the early jets as well as the piston types his father was famous for flying. A full profile is on the Old Flying Machine Company website here.

Mark was both the most rewarding and frustrating of operators from the point of view of an editor. Mark was a remarkably good writer for a practitioner - someone who actually did what was written about - but getting him to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard was a battle; not surprising as he led a full and very active international life. I should add that I understood from Paul Coggan, the editor of Warbirds Worldwide that Mark was a generous correspondent who always was keen to help - but getting him to deliver the text was a challenge. Nevertheless, the few articles he did pen for Warbirds Worldwide were among the most popular that we published, and should be treasured not just for their rarity but also for their insight and wry humour.

Sadly, Mark, Paul Coggan and the Journal itself are no longer with us. Hopefully people will enjoy seeing the Empire of the Sun article that prompted this posting, and may well encourage further articles to be mined from the archives.

Last word must go to Mark's sister Sarah Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company for her prompt and gracious permission to reproduce Mark's article. The Old Flying Machine Company are still very much in business, and their details are here.

Mark Hanna gets out of Hawker Fury G-BTTA after the first flight in the UK. [James Kightly]

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