For their ‘British Airshows’ productions, Planes TV proudly boast ‘If You buy one Airshow DVD this year, buy this one!’ The British Airshows DVDs have always been superb retrospectives on the airshow season covering a number of major events and pretty well all of the different acts you encounter during a season. Though the formula for British Airshows is unchanged with small segments of film from different events in chronological order, the list of events was very different with some notable absentees from the usual lineup. Amongst the absentee were events like Southend and Eastbourne which sadly means there’s no footage of the Vulcan’s arrival around Beachy Head!
However there are some great additions too with the flypasts over Windsor Castle for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Falklands 30th Anniversary commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum included. New airshows are also included with visits to Folkestone and Cleethorpes though I couldn’t help thinking seeing a little more from these events would have been nice!
The coverage starts before the airshow season with some footage of the CAA test flights and shakedown of Avro Vulcan B2 XH558 in April before the main airshow coverage starts with the Abingdon Air & Country Show. Many favourites are included include RIAT, Flying Legends, the IWM Duxford shows including the Merlins and Motors plus the American Air Day, Bournemouth Air Festival and RAF Leuchars. As ever, Planes TV present a superb mix of ground to air, in-cockpit and varied on-board angles throughout the main feature; particularly spectacular is the footage from the RNHF’s Sea Fury and Peter Teichman’s P-40 during the the Yeovilton Air Day coverage.
The production is introduced by Sean Maffett, but as with all of PlanesTV’s productions, the commentary for each event tends to be taken from live-recordings of the show commentary with the occasional piece to camera and voice-over. In general this works quite well, though the Farnborough section seems a little disjointed starting with displays voiced over by one commentator before moving on to some live recording from another! Also the commentary for the A380 doesn’t actually match the aircraft featured in the film which is the Malaysian Airlines example whereas the commentary deals with the Airbus development aircraft!
Alongwith the main feature disc, there is a second disc purely containing feature length footage of various displays with Planes TV’s trademark ‘Interactive InCockpit’ setup providing onboard and normal coverage of displays via the ‘Angle’ and ‘Audio’ buttons on the DVD player controller. The first of these is from the wonderful Gloster Meteor T7 flown by Dan Griffiths at the Duxford Jubilee Show and it is a classic! Other stand out footage comes from the OFMC Spitfire and Mustang at Dunsfold but all of it is very interesting viewing.
Distilling an entire season into a watchable production is never going to be an easy task, some of the various individual display coverage does seem very short at times but Planes TV do a great job of managing to fit almost every single highlight of the season into one film. If you want a reminder of great display season, this is it!