Aerial Adventure: White Waltham Airfield

As one of the oldest airfields in the country, White Waltham is known for being requisitioned for use during the Second World War, to become the headquarters of the Air Transport Auxiliary. In the mid-1950s it was the base of the RAF Home Command and remained in control of the RAF until the late 1980s when it was privately bought and became the airfield it is today.

However White Waltham has added poignance for Farer. Firstly, it is where Diana Barnato Walker 
learned to fly in 1941 (after whom our Barnato II GMT is named).  Then in 1948, when one of her planes burst into flames, she famously refused to ditch and simply switched the fuel off and glided the plane into land on the airfield - all this prior to becoming the female world air speed record holder in 1963.

Secondly, after the war a number of famous aviation companies made their home at White Waltham – most notably Fairey Aviation. Fairey Aviation was the mastermind of Sir Richard Fairey and the sister company to Fairey Marine, makers of the Huntsman powerboat which we featured in our trip to Yarmouth with the Classic Offshore Powerboat Club.

Fuelled by aviation history and a hearty breakfast in the Aero Club, we underwent final checks for our first airborne adventure - taking inspiration from the original Thomas Crown Affair we would be filming a 1971 Swiss glider as it soared over the Berkshire countryside. The star of the day was our 19-year-old glider pilot - Liam Bennett - the ice-cool definition of an old head on young shoulders.

After towing the glider into position on the runway with our trusty Land Rover, we watched as a Robin DR400/180R Remorqueur towed the glider up into the summer sky before releasing Liam to pilot his engineless glider gracefully, high above the sun-scorched airfield.

However to catch the ultimate shots we needed to get in the air ourselves and so we leapt into a helicopter to capture the magic from 15,000ft. Looking down onto the sprawling patchwork of fields, there was an overwhelming sense of freedom as we flew under the clouds, chasing the perfect shot of the glider swiftly pulling up to showcase its full wingspan in all its glory.
We spent the day flying a series of swooshing sorties over the Home Counties before we had captured the aerial footage we needed, all that remained was a seamless final shot involving the glider landing next to a Porsche 365 and a quick change of vehicles before driving off into the distance.

A day of thrilling flying under our belts - we all sat down to enjoy a well-earned sundowner as we looked out over the magnificent airfield. A huge thanks to Liam (and his dad), everyone at White Waltham - and our usual talented team of Amy Shore and Mackie for making this shoot our most daring adventure yet.