FARNBOROUGH INTERNATIONAL 94

Onyx Productions/Aerospace Communications Services, approximate running time 90 minutes, £14.99.

DESCRIBED ON the cover as the «official video of the UK’s most spectacular airshow», this, in fact, provides more than just a video record of Famborough 1994 — it delves into selected areas in some depth and includes interviews with aircrew and designers. The whole package is a very professional production, unencumbered by intrusive music and fatuous comments — some might call it — rather dry, but Mark Ashley, as the commentator, does the job well.

Naturally the video opens with foreign military aircraft (there being little representation from these shores); pride of place going to the family of aircraft developed from the Sukhoi Su-27 (Su-30 and Su-35). As always, their displays were performed with consummate skill, and the variants seem to get more impressive (the Su-30 took-off in 1,800 feet with seven out of a maximum of eight tons of armaments, and still pulled 8g, and performed the tail slide and a ‘hover’!).

As we all know, the Eurofighter 2000 was too busy to be at the UK’s most prestigious airshow, but the producers did have some good footage, and provided an interesting interview with the British test pilot by way of consolation. Of course, the French grabbed the opportunity to display Rafale and even provided an in-cockpit camera for this video — impressive display it was too, although I would have liked to have seen the holographic HUD. The Mirage 2000 completed their range.

Variety was provided by the Airbus family of A319/320/321 and A330/340 with awesome displays of size and extreme low-speed flying, made possible by their advanced computer control technology. Complete contrast came from the other end of the size spectrum with the Peter Phillips’ designed Speedtwin (twin-engined sports aerobatic aeroplane available in kit form), which looked most attractive in the flying display.

Rotary wing interest was well represented with the various contenders for the British army requirement — starting with the Rooivalk (the 2nd prototype of this South African aircraft) performing impressive loops and rolls to demonstrate its agility in the combat arena. The Apache made a brief visit in between missile test-firings in America, and the Eurocopter Tiger demonstrated some of its abilities (apparently, its new mast head sights and sensors can differentiate targets and attack from 8km in all conditions).

In celebration of the 20 years of BAe Hawk flying, 14 Hawks (representing the 14 export customers) performed an excellent display. Concorde provided further contrast and was there to mark its 25th birthday. Two generations of US fighters performed for the cameras, the P-38 Lightning (‘fork-tailed devil’) and the F-l6 displayed to the crowd, and demonstrated some of the changes in the last 50 years. The C-17 Globemaster was truly awesome in its size, power and ground manoeuvrability (18 tons of thrust from each engine), but the MiG-29 performed, as always, with ballet-like grace for the admiring crowds. The video finishes with a cavalcade of classic types including the Battle of Britain Flight, a replica Vickers Vimy (with Chevrolet racing car engines) and the B-17 Flying Fortress; spectacularly rounded off by the Red Arrows.

For those who, like me, missed Farnborough this year, this video will go a long way to making up for it — for the rest, it will provide an excellent and lasting record of the event.

Philip Belsham

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