The Original Spitfire Surprise Low Pass

The original low pass when a WW2 aircraft buzzed the camera crew shooting the open of a documentary on the 60th Anniversary of the Spitfire we produced for American television.

Despite hearing on the radio from the control tower that the Spitfire was rolling we couldn't see the aircraft against the sky and thought the presenter's link would be over before the aircraft arrived. In actuality the pilot had lifted off then raised the undercarriage and kept the aircraft low so he hugged the ground and was lost to our eyes against the grass runway. We first noticed him when he crossed the tarmac roadway and dust was flicked up. That was when the still photograph was taken and immediately we all hit the deck as the presenter was pushed over by the downdraft from the Spitfire as he pulled up, no doubt laughing all the way.

The pilot was a friend of the presenter and having fun with us or he'd have never pulled that stunt. Ray, the pilot, was a former leader of the Royal Airforce aerobatic team the Red Arrows and regarded as one of the finest pilots of his generation. We were lucky to film with him many times but this, the first time, was probably the most hair-raising encounter we had. Ray Hanna was a consumate professional and his remarkable flying prowess was saught after by display organisers and film directors the world over. Gemini Pictures


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