The UK's first military airbase, Montrose Air Station, is a hundred years old:BBC articleBrief video report
No longer active, but there's a museum.
I was lucky enough to see a screening of Wings
, a silent, black and white film from 1927, last night. 85 years old, it's been lovingly restored to beautiful condition by Paramount. The story of two American lads as they vie for the affections of the girl they both want, ignore the affections of the girl next door who desperately wants one of them, train as pilots and see action on the Western Front, it's a little hokey in parts but surprisingly sweet and touching in others, with some genuinely funny moments and excellent aviation sequences that moved me far more than a CGI dogfight ever has. Do catch it if you get the chance!
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From Murphy's War,
starring Peter O'Toole - and a Grumman J2F 'Duck' seaplane.
This is edge-of-your-seat.
My mum sent me a link to this review
of Flying for France
by James R McConnell, which is available free from Amazon as a Kindle title.
What's more, if you visit the product page (linked from the review), you'll find links to loads more free Great War literature.
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The thing to do with this film, is play it at 2/3 or even half speed… and then it would be pretty accurate. But it escaped the filmmakers - or they didn't want to admit - that these were essentially flying kites, powered by what today would be motorcycle engines.
Instead we crank everything up to the CGI zoom-wow mode, showing planes doing things they couldn't do, at speeds that would shear their wings off, and of course bra-a-a-a-t
machine guns that the Fokker repeater made more pop-pop-pop-pop
- rapid fire, sure, but that's a relative term.
Oh, and of course one burst of machine gun fire is enough to set bombers' motors blazing like wicker basketwork. Zoom-wow!
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opens with an introduction that explains this film; Walt Disney made it in 1943 purely because he wanted to and could. It got put in the vaults at the end of the war.
To the purist I will point out that this was
made in 1943, and the Germans were not to be shown winning anything, ever, not even in WWI; Fokker's interrupter is credited to “Science,” even the Red Baron is shown losing, &c. Only where they simply couldn't avoid it, i e Norway, and even then they are merely anonymous black shapes. The only time we ever
see the Big Unmentionable Symbol - or even the Maltese Cross - it's shown losing. (I did see one exception, concerning the Maginot Line & the fall of France.)
What the heck, this would resurface later: We may have lost in Vietnam, but we can still win it in the movies!
[And the Spanish Civil War is skipped entirely, of course, which normally would be damned peculiar in a treatise on military air power. Guerni-who?
I only found out a few hours before the fact that the Red Baron movie from 2008 was on BBC2 yesterday evening, and I didn't think to post it here. However, it's now available on iPlayer:http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00x4j5l/The_Red_Baron/
I didn't find it that gripping, but possibly I wasn't paying enough attention at the start because my mum kept trying to talk to me. Liked the flying, and one scene of the whole airborne Flying Circus was well worth waiting an hour and a half for.