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DVD REVIEW: The Royal International Air Tattoo 2013

Produced by The Media Group; available from airshowdvds.co.uk priced £16.95 DVD, £24.95 Blu-Ray. (This review is based around the standard edition of the DVD/Blu-Ray)

The Royal International Air Tattoo is the biggest military airshow of the year and in 2013 pulled in 235 aircraft to RAF Fairford. The continued difficulties faced by air arms around the world did have a major impact on the event, not least the non-appearance of any United States military aircraft. It did however still present many highlights including some memorable formations involving the Red Arrows with the first British Airways A380 and the Airbus A400M and return by the Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum.

2013 also marked a change for the traditional RIAT DVD with The Media Group (TMG) taking over the responsibility of producing the official product. TMG already produce the RAF Waddington International Airshow DVD and their products generally have the feel of a full TV Documentary over a simple record of a flying display with many different interviews and featurettes slotted into their production.

Running for nearly two hours, the production touches on many highlights from RIAT. The flying displays provide the bulk of the production and while filmed in HD, the filming does seem a little shaky at times and there are some odd camera positions which are positioned a very long way from the display line. While this on occasion does give some interesting angles on the big display teams, it does make the smaller aircraft seem overly distant and often makes the picture look a little too hazy! There is also some unfortunate editing, particularly of the aerobatic C-27J which sees the camera cut away as the aircraft starts its signature loop!

That said there is some really spectacular footage, particularly the on-board footage from the likes of the MiG-29 and La Patrouille de France. The flying display filming is up some concise and informative commentary from RIAT’s senior commentator Ben Dunnell.

However, like TMG’s Waddington production, it is the interviews and background coverage in which this DVD scores very highly. There’s is a real sense that this DVD tries to give a flavour of the full RIAT story with contributions from the volunteers, medical staff, pilots as well as the likes of Tim Prince and Honorary Vice-Patron David Jason. While some may only want wall to wall coverage of the flying display, I always feel that DVDs always benefit from the extra depth these interviews and features add and it is something TMG have always done well. My only criticism of these segements is that some of them suffer from overuse of some psychedelic special effects.

DVD REVIEW: Russian Air Force 100th Anniversary Airshow

Russian Air Force 100th Anniversary AirshowProduced by PlanesTV.com; available from PlanesTV.com priced £16.99 DVD, £24.00 Blu-Ray

Perhaps the most spectacular airshows of recent times was that for the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Air Force held at Zhukovsky in August 2012. The show presented a cavalcade of types associated with Russian military aviation over the last 100 years.

Planes TV were lucky enough to be able to attend the show and record it for a wider audience. As well as the Russian aircraft, the show was an international celebration with display teams from across Europe include Il Frecce Tricolori, the Finnish Midnight Hawks and our own Red Arrows plus solo jet displays from the likes of the French Air Force Rafale. However for this production, Planes TV made the decision to focus on the participating historic warbirds and modern Russian Air Force aircraft as well aircraft from DOSAAF.

The show attracted 300,000 people over three days which for an airfield based event in truly massive crowd. Planes TV shot from both the crowd and live-side of the airfield and many of their shots give a very good impression of the scale of the event.

Unlike recent PlanesTV projects, this production features full narration throughout from Melvyn Hiscock. While there are no interviews Melvyn’s commentary does set the scene for each collection of displays wonderfully with plenty of background to explain the significance and the often confusing or complex Russian methods, designations or organization!

As you would expect, the actual quality of the content is superb with some mouthwatering displays from rare aircraft that rarely, if ever venture outside of the Russian border! Highlight include flypasts by the Long Range Aviation bombers (Tu-22M3 Backfires, Tu-95MS Bears and Tu-150 Blackjacks), a diverse range of transport types and some amazing collection of fighters. The modern fighter or course provide some spectacular footage. Seeing the like of the Su-35S Flanker-E, Su-34 Fullback and various MiG-29s cavorting in display flying and simulated dogfights across Russian skies is particularly eye=catching.

Concluding the show and the production were the Russian Swift and Knights with their spectacular flare releases and close formation flying. For aviation enthusiasts this is a superb production and one of great interest, particularly in Blu-Ray format as the colour of the show looks epic in HD thanks to the superb lighting and clear skies the show enjoyed.

DVD REVIEW: RAF Waddington International Airshow 2013

Produced by The Media Group. Available from airshowdvds.co.uk priced £15.99

The RAF Waddington International Airshow is the Royal Air Force’s premier airshow of the year and is the biggest shop-window for the public to see what the RAF does. The 2013 event took place in the mid-summer heatwave and saw participation from across Europe.

The show also celebrated two very important RAF anniversaries; the 95th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force itself and the 70th Anniversary of the Ruhr Dams raid by 617 “Dambusters” Squadron. As such, the event attracted Royal patronage and Honorary Air Commodore HRH Earl of Wessex provides an introduction to the show and RAF Waddington for the Media Group’s production.

As with most airshow DVDs, the Media Group’s production covers all the major flying display highlights over the 107 minute running time with clear and informative commentary from Ben Dunnell. For the most part of the footage of the flying is generally good but on occasion it is quite shaky and certainly for the coverage of the Belgian F-16 the sound doesn’t quite match the visuals! There are however several highlights including some dramatic on-aircraft footage from Mike Brageot’s Xtreme Air XA41

What really sets the Media Group productions apart is the level of detail they put into the production. The Dambusters Anniversary and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight feature very strongly at the beginning of the production with interviews with OC BBMF Squadron Leader Dunc Mason plus other key personnel plus a charming interview between Dams Raid veteran Johnny Johnson and current 617 aircrew plus behind-the-scenes footage of the BBMF hangar at nearby RAF Coningsby. There is also a look at the RAF Waddington Heritage Centre plus interview with those currently stationed at Waddington plus of course many of the visiting display crews.

Overall, this is a great souvenir of the 2013 RAF Waddington International Airshow. The DVD adds an extra dimension to the show with its extended coverage, particularly of the Battle of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Dambusters 70th Anniversary

AIRSHOW NEWS: RIAT set for take-of​f with The Media Gro​up​

RIATThe world’s largest military airshow, Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) has announced the appointment of The Media Group to film and produce their official airshow DVD for 2013.

RIAT, held annually at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, is one of the UK’s top outdoor family events with upwards of 130,000 visitors each year. The 2013 show, a ‘Celebration of Aviation Excellence’ will take place over the weekend of 20 and 21 July. Footage captured at the event will go straight into post-production with The Media Group and the finished product is due to ship in August.

Richard Arquati, Head of press and public relations at the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises said “The Air Tattoo has a fantastic line-up this year with around 200 aircraft from across the world taking part. Capturing all the action is tricky but we’re delighted to be working with The Media Group, who have the right balance of ideas and expertise to produce an exciting, memorable product.”

The Media Group will continue to produce the annual RAF Waddington airshow DVD, which they have produced for the past four years.

The Media Group’s managing director Keith Daniell says: “Airshows are fantastic events to film as there is thrilling action in the sky and lots of emotional stories behind the scenes. Our annual production for Waddington always gets great reviews and we’re looking forward to producing a new DVD that RIAT will be proud of.”

Tickets for the Royal International Air Tattoo can be purchased on the official website – http://www.airtattoo.com/airshow/airshow-tickets.

DVD pre-orders will be available online soon.

DVD Review: British Airshows 2012

British Airshows 2012

Produced by PlanesTV.com, available from PlanesTV.com priced DVD £24.99, Blu-Ray £29.99

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!

DVD REVIEW: RAF Waddington International Airshow 2012

RAF Waddington International Airshow 2012 DVD Cover

RAF Waddington International Airshow 2012 DVD Cover

Produced by The Media Group; Available from The Media Group priced £15.99.

2012 saw one of the best RAF Waddington International Airshows of recent years with a superb selection of modern military displays from across Europe and beyond. In particular the show was memorable for the international display debut by the Republic of  Korean Air Force’s national display team, the Black Eagles as well as a appearances by the Saudi Hawks, the Swiss Air Force F/A-18C Hornet and Super Puma, Dutch F=16 Demo Team as well as an array of UK based types.

Recent DVD releases of the Waddington International Airshow have been produced by The Media Group who bring a unique style to the Airshow DVD format. TMG put a lot of effort into some ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage, not only of the many display items and aircraft that visit for the airshow, but also of the day-to-day life of RAF Waddington. That starts immediately with the station commander of RAF Waddington introducing the airshow and the station to to the viewer. Further filming includes visits to the Survival Equipment Section and interviews with personnel that service 5(AC) Squadron’s Sentinel R1 fleet and the RAF Regiment Auxiliary. While the format of the production a familiar to previous productions, the flying display commentary for the 2012 production is provided by the excellent Ben Dunnell, part of the new commentary team at the show this year.

2012 is an important year as Waddington also celebrated “The Year of Lincolnshire Aviation.” This is marked in the production with a very touching film about 92 year old Squadron Leader Edgar Pickles of the Royal Australian Air Force who served with 100 Squadron during the Second World War. Edgar visited the RAF Waddington Airshow and met the modern day 100 Squadron who were showing off one of their specially marked Hawk T1s marking the units 95th Anniversary.

The flying display is covered very well with both footage of the action as well as interviews with key personalities. The Korean Black Eagles appear very early on the film and receive some superb coverage with interviews and some striking on board footage. There’s also in depth coverage of Il Frecce Tricolori, Dutch F-16, Swiss Super Puma Demo Team and Saudi Hawks amongst others.

We have come expect great things from TMG’s coverage of the Waddington International Airshow, and they have not disappointed us with their 2012 coverage. With the superb line-up that Waddington offered this year this is possibly one of the best airshow DVDs of the year.

DVD Review: British Airshows 2011

British Airshows 2011 DVD

British Airshows 2011 DVD

Produced by PlanesTV; available from PlanesTV.com prices £24.99 DVD, £39.99 Blu-Ray

‘British Airshows’ is the signature production by PlanesTV and is the most comprehensive look over the airshow season. The DVD covers a number of different shows starting at Abingdon and concluding at the Duxford Autumn Airshow in October. The production is introduced by Sean Maffett, but most sections feature the commentary direct from the show specific DVD products. Although most footage is from PlanesTV other companies have also contributed, most notably Flying Machines TV with their footage from Flying Legends and the Royal International Air Tattoo. It is also good see events appear for which no DVD has been produced this year, namely Southend, RAF Cosford and the American Air Day at Duxford.

If there is anything negative to say about British Airshow 2011, it is the overall editing. The introductory pieces from each PlanesTV event specific DVD have been included which are often repetitive and often introduce acts not actually included in that event’s coverage. It would have perhaps been better for each show to have been introduced by a single narrator to give a brief synopsis of the show and introduce the show commentator on the live feed PlanesTV use! This certainly works for the Bournemouth Air Festival coverage with certainly has the smoothest editing! Also a little distracting is the editing of Flying Machines and RIAT which at times seems a bit rushed and almost doesn’t make sense, particularly the Legends coverage!

However, one cannot fault the comprehensive coverage on the DVD. Most, if not all of the UK’s major display teams feature at least one time or another in the two hours of coverage. British Airshow 2011 is like it’s predecessors a double disc product. Disc 2 features the very best of the interactive in-cockpit and aircraft mounted camera features that really make for exciting viewing -- some of the sequences are quite simply stunning!

This is essential viewing for airshow enthusiats and there’s some great and important moments captured in the production. However, the overall quality feel of the 2010 edition of ‘British Airshows’ seems to missing somehow!

DVD REVIEW: Dunsfold Wings and Wheels 2011

Dunsfold Wings and Wings 2011 DVD Cover

Dunsfold Wings and Wings 2011 DVD Cover

Produced by Planes TV; available from PlanesTV.com price £16.99 DVD; £24.99 Blu-Ray

Dunsfold is one of your reviewer’s favourite airshows of the year.It is quite different from other airshows as historic cars and military vehicles are given equal billing to aviation displays.

This year’s show proved to be another highlight of the season though did have to put up with it’s fair share of problems. The Red Arrows were forced to pull out following the tragic events are Bournemouth Airport and then there was a very last minute cancellation of the Vulcan on the first show day. Despite this the superb action laid on by the organisers meant everyone went home happy.

One of the touches that really makes Dunsfold is the commentary double act of Melvyn Hiscock and Brendan O’Brien who manage to pack a great level of fact in with some typically British humour. Much of that commentary is captured by Planes TV who have also managed to cram in the highlights from the motoring to give a true sense of the unique Dunsfold atmosphere.

The flying action is superbly well captured despite some very variable light levels. There’s some great footage of the unique Hawker Sea Fury and Hunter formation that was one of the true highlights of the show. Further to that footage there’s some great on-baord angles on the F-86A Sabre, Fox Glider, Tiger Club Turbulent Team and the Tigers Parachute Display Team.

This is a fine reminder of a great weekend or an excellent introduction to one of the best events on the circuit!

 

DVD REVIEW: RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day 2011

RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day 2011 DVD

RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day 2011 DVD

Produced by PlanesTV, available from PlanesTV.com priced £16.99 DVD, £24.99 Blu-Ray

Without doubt, RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day was one of the very best airshows in 2011 with an unparalleled varied flying display with participants from across Europe. In 2011 Yeovilton celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Westland Lynx with support not only from the Royal Navy, but also the Army Air Corps and AgustaWestland who are based on the other side of Yeovil.

The show started with an impressive balbo of 9 Westland Lynx based at Yeovilton chased by the AgustaWestland Wildcat, the latest incarnation of the Lynx design which will enter service with the Navy at Yeovilton in 2015. The highlights just keep coming though with a solo Wildcat display, Polish MiG-29, Dutch AH-64D Apache, French Navy Role Demo of Super Etendard and Rafale, Vulcan and Sea Vixen, Belgian F-16 and of course the might Commando Assault finale.

As with all Planes TV productions, the order of flying on the DVD closely resembles the order of flying on the day of the show. Yeovilton’s flying display was very well constructed with some great contrasts and that does reflect well in the DVD. There are some great ground shots too including some interesting artistic panning shots, particularly on the jet pan. As you would expect the footage of the flying displays is of a very high quality. With such an interesting collection of displays though, it is a little disappointing that there are no interviews or background stories to the displays that were such great feature of equivalent DVDs of Waddington or Bournemouth. An obvious miss in this regard was the lack of coverage of the static collection of historic and international Lynx airframes and commentary on the Lynx story or some of the more interesting static display aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom from the Luftwaffe.

There are a very good selection of the interactive in-cockpit special features covering the Dutch Apache, Black Cats, Royal Navy Raiders and Vulcan. Overall this is superb reminder of a great airshow with some spectacular footage.

DVD REVIEW: RAF Leuchars Airshow 2011

RAF Leuchars Airshow 2011 DVD Cover

RAF Leuchars Airshow 2011 DVD Cover

Produced by PlanesTV; available from PlanesTV.com priced DVD £16.99, Blu-Ray £24.99

For many reasons, RAF Leuchars Airshow 2011 was a very significant event. Defence Cuts and financial cutbacks may have reduced the show’s static displays, but the flying display was a very well varied and impressive affair. A few weeks aftre the show, it was announced the RAF would be leaving Leuchars over the next few years with the Typhoon squadron (No 6(F))  based there supposedly moving to RAF Lossiemouth. Happily though, this airshow will not be the last staged at Leuchars.

It was however a show that enjoyed several seasons of weather in one day with moments of brilliant sunshine interspersed with some very bleak grey rainclouds However, those conditions do create some impressive cloudscapes! Such varied weather however does create problems for all photographers weather they shoot stills or film, but PlanesTV’s camera operators have coped well despite the rain! The extensive coverage covers everything from the early morning Radio Controlled Model Aircraft display (watch out for the dramatic ‘crash’ and impressive response from the station’s fire and rescue!) right through to the closing sunset ceremony giving a true flavour of a RAF Leuchars Airshow.

As with many recent productions, PlanesTV have use a direct feed from the show commentary to provide narration for the show. For the most part this works, though there are occasions where background noise, mostly music does become a little distracting.

The flying display footage captures some great moments, the Vulcan appearing though the gloom with vapour streaming from it’s wing-tips is just the first of many. The Leuchars airshow took place just two weeks after the tragic accident at Bournemouth Airport which claimed the life of Flt Lt Jon Egging. Planes TV have included the tribute paid to Jon Egging in their productions, first on the teams arrival at RAF Leuchars and as part of their display later in the afternoon.

As ever there is some great on-board footage extras; particularly impressive is that taken from the cockpit of the Belgian Air Component F-16 solo display. Overall, this in another impressive DVD and well worth a look, even if like me you didn’t attend the RAF Leuchars Airshow.

 

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