Saturday, 19 May 2012

A Boy's Own Adventure... At Work.

Very occasionally as a news cameraman i get to say i really love my job. How often does a news producer ring up the night before and ask if you fancy spending the next day hanging out the back of military helicopters as they fly in formation with around 12 or so other helicopters over your own patch. Not very often, i can assure you. I immediately set about trying to force grow a handlebar moustache, and thinking of an appropriate RAF nickname for myself, but all i could come up with was " Beardy."

"Ghost rider 995 this is Maverick... permission for flyby..."

So it was with great pleasure yesterday that i spent the day standing on the rear open ramp of an RAF Merlin helicopter, as it flew over the South of England, banking around the formation of helicopters from the Royal Navy, Army Air Corps and the RAF, that were to take part in the Queen's Jubilee celebrations the very next day. Today was practice for the pilots, keen not to cock it all up on the day in front of their Colonel in Chief. Her Maj can get mighty miffed about such things i am led to believe. Oh, and some people in the South really need to sort out their gardens... disgusting.

My mode of transport for the day...

 Anyway, i donned my leather flying cap and goggles, along with my white silk scarf, but instead had my head squeezed into a modern flying helmet that gave me all the qualities of a large green lollipop. But i soon got into the swing of things as i swaggered around the airfield with the deft aplomb of Tom Cruise as 'Maverick', only with a beard and bandy legs. We took off into the wide blue yonder, and as i looked out of the rear ramp, the space behind us filled with other helicopters and i swear i could hear the Ride of the Valkyries playing somewhere. Napalm be damned, i like the smell of bacon and eggs in the morning...

As news jollies go, this was a belter. A fine day of filming was to be had and my footage made it onto at least three BBC news programmes that i know of. Bonus.

Try sitting here when the crew master 'adjusts' the ramp... utter bastard.

 But let me tell you this, make sure you bring spare underwear. Why..? Because as you sit on the rear helicopter ramp filming at around 3 thousand feet and the crewmaster 'adjusts' the ramp angle... well, you just might need them. And if you have ever wondered how, amongst a large phallanx of pilots and aircrew, which one is the Apache pilot...? Well don't worry. He will tell you who he is.

If you would like to see more photos of the press in a helicopter you can see them HERE

If you want to see behind the scenes on Youtube, you can watch it HERE

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.