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An exciting Air Display from the 1970s

The film embedded in this post was taken at a UK Air Display or Airshow sometime in the 1970s.

The film is a Super 8 Kodachrome film and was actually taken by a photographer who took another film at an airshow which I’ve already published on vintage home movies. That film suffered from very poor under exposure, and at the time I published the film I speculated that the camera had auto exposure and had been fooled by the bright sky.

Having seen this film however, I wonder if the photographer took both films at the same event and forgot to reset the film speed dial on the camera when they changed film? I suspect that we’ll never actually know the real reason but fortunately the exposure of this film look to be spot on.

Anyway, back to the film which is the feature of this post; There are some oddities which slightly detract from the enjoyment of watching the film. For a start the photographer was not able to keep the fast moving aircraft in the same position in the frame as they moved. This is hardly surprising, but in order to correct some of the resultant jerkiness I’ve run the film through a stabilisation filter after it was converted to digital. This has resulted in a few occasions in the film where the frame lines wildly jump about – although this is odd, it’s better than trying to keep track of the aircraft jumping about!

The other thing which is odd is a rather strange effect which appears on the right hand edge of the film which looks like water droplets running down the side of the frame. I’m not sure how that occurred but I can say that it is on the actual film – it isn’t an effect added during the conversion.

Still images from the Air Display film

The gallery below show some of the aircraft which were on display at the airshow that day.

Air Display Film

Below is the actual film of the Air Display taken all those years ago.

In spite of what I said above about the photographer not being able to keep the planes in the frame as they fly across in front of the camera, I still believe they did a pretty fantastic job considering the equipment used and the speed the planes move at. Most of the shots are pretty well exposed as well, and the photographer has used the zoom function of the camera well to keep large displays in frame.

When I saw the three helicopters flying across the sky in formation it reminded me of the opening sequence to the M.A.S.H. television series of the 1970s!

I’m not an aircraft enthusiast so I couldn’t hope to identify the different aircraft on display but if anyone who watches the film recognises any particular aircraft type, please let me know in the comments below.

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If you see anything in the film which you recognise or you think gives clues to the location or date, please let me know in the comments below. Also, please share this post with your friends if you think they may be able to help locate scene in this film.

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A software developer by profession and an amateur photographer by hobby I've been interested in all things photographic since I was a teenager some 40 years ago. Many of my interests centre around vintage film photography and cinematography.


  1. Roy says:

    I am pretty sure the large airliner is a Lockheed L-1012 TriStar, decked out in Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA). (ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_L-1011_TriStar.)

    I am not as confident about identifying three fighter models. The one with the twin vertical stabiliser might be a Grumman F-14 Tomcat (ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_F-14_Tomcat.). It certainly looks like it.

    Another fighter model with the delta wing and canard, might be a Swedish Saab Viggen (Thunderbolt) (ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saab_37_Viggen).

    the third, smaller, fighter might be a B.Ae. Hawk trainer, but I am guessing wildly.

    I thought the film was great: the gloomy skies gave a terrific backdrop to the aeroplanes!

    1. Thanks for all the great info Roy.

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