Written by Simon Brett Category: Programmes
Published on 05 June 2011

"This is one of Britain's busiest airfields, but you won't find it on any map. Planes take off every few minutes yet they carry no passengers. And its very unlikely that passing motorists on the nearby M25 even know it's there".

Warning: this programme has been given a "bloody freezing" certificate and may not be suitable for those of you who like bogging off to Majorca every summer.

There was actually a logical reason for us standing in the middle of a freezing field, in the middle of winter. Len Kerswill, our intrepid presenter and man of a thousand contacts had lined up a programme about the Phoenix radio controlled model aircraft club. This part of the shoot was featuring Pete Spurway, who builds and flies his own planes and also give flying lessons to potential model aircraft pilots. But of course the club needed a flat stretch of land to take off and land their aircraft, and that meant no trees, no buildings and so no protection from the bitter cold. However in the usual Harefield tradition we soldiered through it, Peter talked us through preparing his plane for take off, and despite the strong headwind, gave a masterful demonstration of flying technique, before landing it safely again.

A week later, and having thawed out nicely, we set up in the relative warmth of Peter's workshop. He took us through in detail buying, building an aircraft and how to get the best results from it, as well telling us about his fascination with flying. His workshop was a shrine, crammed with every piece of precision equipment you could imagine, including a lathe in his downstairs toilet. Now there's a man with an obsession!

A short journey with Peter, and we relocated in the basement turned workshop of Adrian Barnes, one of his fellow flyers. Both were in the middle of building a gigantic1/5scale replica of a Spitfire aircraft. Costing in excess of £1,500 and with a top speed of over 100-mph, this was a serious piece of kit, & once again showed the skill & dedication that people have for their hobbies.

We ended up with a great looking programme, and thanks to Alan's nifty camerawork the flying sequences were superb. I just wish people could see how cold it was....

"Flying aircraft is so therapeutic. I wish I could spend more time having therapy and less time going to work..... It's just sheer enjoyment."

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