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London Airport - Heathrow in the 1960s & 70s

A review of the latest release from Avion Video, now available from their website in both VHS and DVD format.

These days the number of places where you can regularly expect to see a VC10 is limited, RAF Brize Norton being the only airport that can call itself home to these gracious airliners. This was not always the case, in the 60s and 70s the VC10 could be seen all around the world, and London Heathrow was then the place to be for the young and the old who could not help but admire its beauty. Obviously the VC10 wasn't the only aircraft drawing people to the airport, as many a seasoned spotter will be able to tell you. Who wouldn't want to take a step back in time and listen to the sounds of a DC-6 starting up, or a Caravelle noisily climbing away from Heathrow's runway 28L? With time machines unfortunately out of the question, Avion Video's latest release offers the next best thing, and all from the comfort of your own warm house instead of the windswept terminal rooftop!

In previous releases, amongst which the Classic Wings - Vickers VC10 programme, Avion Video has shown us just what can be done with old cine film. This new release is the new jewel in their crown: 65 minutes of original colour film shot by enthusiasts at London Heathrow Airport during the 1960s and 1970s. Using a specialist conversion process, this film has been converted to a digital format, which enabled cleaning up, and the addition of period sounds. The edited result can best be described as every spotters dream day, condensed into 65 minutes.

Starting with the early 60's, the programme loses no time and drops you right in the middle of these busy days with various long gone designs scattered about the airport, and many more coming in to land. With Viscounts and Vanguards parked in the foreground of many shots, scores of 707s in various colour schemes and many more almost forgotten types and airlines flickering across the TV screen, it is at first an overwhelming sight. The pace of the production is just right though. The original film shots were obviously all short as cine film was no cheap commodity in those days, but the editing still provides enough time to saviour every single shot. Still I found it a challenge to try to keep up with looking up the types and details on the included fact sheet while watching the programme. My advise would be to save the fact sheet for after the viewing, and letting it serve as a starting point for the second session, which will be the first of many more for most of us!

The arrival of BOAC's 747s leads us to the 1970s, still many 707s but also the arrival of the wide bodies. Next to the 747, DC-10s and the first Airbuses are seen, including scenes shot before and on board a promotional short flight in one of BOAC's first Jumbos. Another highlight of this decade was the arrival of Concorde, and with the images of the final commercial flights still fresh on everyones mind, seeing this same sleek shape almost 30 years earlier is jarring. She looks modern no matter what decade your looking at!

The variety of types and airlines is staggering so I won't even try to start listing those. The factsheet included with the DVD or Video does a good job at that, even if it has to use a very fine print to be able to fit on one piece of A4 paper.

The end result of this production is well worth its price. For many it will be a trip down memory lane with an excellent tour guide. For others who, like me, have never had the pleasure of being there in real life this DVD provides a glimpse of just what we have missed

What it does for the VC10, and many more airliners of those days, is adding perspective. As I mentioned, I wasn't around to witness the VC10 in its glory days as an airliner, but watching this video gives a fair idea of the atmosphere around the aircraft in those days.

This DVD is highly recommended for every fan of classic airliners!

Duration: 65 minutes
Price (DVD or VHS): 17,95 (not including postage&packing)
For more details (or to order) see the website at www.avionvideo.com

Images on this page are screenshots from the video, more can be found in the photo gallery on the Avion video website
All images copyright Avion Video

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