Wings Over the World

Registered:   4th December 1950
Duration: 33 minutes
Feet: 3009 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: ​BR/E14639
Production Company: ​ ​Harold Baim Limited

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A unique production of the days when London Airport was just a conglomeration of huts just after the Second World War. The Brabazon, the Comet, Constellations, Viscounts, Vikings, Yorks, and a host of long gone passenger aeroplanes are shown together with how London’s Heathrow Airport 'worked' in the late 1940s. A piece of wonderful nostalgia 

Director of Photography: Eric Owen
Special Photography - Viscount Sequence: W.G. Carrington
Special Photography - Comet Sequence: N.J. Bacon
Technical Advisers: W.L. Baddeley, Harry Stewart, Frank Butters, J.L. Vosper, N.J. Bacon
Film Editor: Frank Gilpin
Production Manager: Tom Lemay
Continuity: Glenda Baim
Music: Chappell
Sound Recordist: Leevers Rich
Narrated by: McDonald Hobley
Written and Produced by: Harold Baim


London airport is at present under construction and destined to play a leading part in the world's airways of the future. When completed, it will give a fitting reception to the biggest and fastest aircraft of the age in which we live. The air age.

The main runway at London airport is more than 9000ft long, and eventually this air terminal will be able to receive 100 aircraft an hour and 4000 passengers in the same time.

340,000 visitors each year come to the public enclosures to see the giant airliners of the world. The control tower houses aerodrome control and approach control, directing aircraft by radio telephone and other direction finding devices up to a distance of 40 miles away. No effort has been spared to ensure that there is all the equipment necessary for the control of the ever increasing air traffic at London.

Radar erials locate the machines as far away as 25 miles, and a combination of radar and radio enables control staff to ascertain under inferior conditions the position of an aircraft and direct the pilot safely until the runway is in sight.

It would be impossible to keep up with the pace of modern air traffic if equipment was not available to pass messages quickly and accurately to all parts of the world.

Messages to other land stations go by telephone, wireless or teleprinter, as do weather reports, aircraft movements, and other information. Teleprinters are in direct communication with aerodromes in this country and abroad. The pressing of a key connects with a receiving teleprinter and the message is instantaneously transmitted.

By a comprehensive system of internal communication, every department of this vast airport is linked.

Up to control goes a message. From this station, pilots are given permission to take off and to land. They are told which runway to use.

Bristol Brabazon, the largest civil airliner in the world, is due to land. And here she is, 130 tons of power, grace and beauty winging down the runway 2-8. Later, we shall see in more detail this astounding trend in aviation.

Adjacent to the marshalling apron are the offices of some of the world's major airlines; Pan American; Air France; Air India; Trans Canada; Argentine National; Iberia and Sabena; KLM; and many others.

A marshaller with his bats brings into position an airliner which has just arrived. He alone is responsible. An error of judgment might damage these expensive machines, but long training makes it a simple task to the men who can park a plane as easily as a baby car.

Also arrived, a Viking of the King's Flight, from which His Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, disembarked. A stratocruiser from the USA moves past. The van at its side. Looks like a toy model.

A Constellation from Israel. Languedoc from France. From Canada, another Constellation. Sabina takes off for Belgium.

Qantas Empire from Australia. Alitalia from Italy. And an airliner from India. Wings from every part of the world.

A few hundred yards away, one of Britain's latest, the Hermes, is being made ready for its flight to Johannesburg. It accommodates 40 passengers and is designed to fly 2000 miles non-stop at a speed of 330 miles an hour. The crew's quarters, to the uninitiated, seem to be just a mass of instruments. But to the men who operate these luxurious machines, every dial lever and indicator has its place in the business of flying.

Baggage loading is carried out with clockwork precision. Each member of the staff contributes to the smooth running of the services.

Checking over is the flight engineer who, with a practiced eye, knows every feature of his machine.

The crew comes aboard. Each officer trained and specialized in his job for radio, for navigation, and for piloting with many thousands of flying hours, to his credit.

Captain Bennett looks on. To him one day London, the next South Africa is just a job to be done efficiently.

And so the passengers come forward, customs and all formalities having been completed.

The propellers turn, and we bid them bon voyage. Today is Tuesday. Tomorrow, Wednesday, they will touch down at Johannesburg airport.

To Rome, from London, takes 6.5 hours. The stewardess attends to last minute requirements, dmoothly and efficiently. Smooth and efficient after careful study at the college for stewards. It's here, under the tutorship of Mr. John Lawrence, that correct procedure is learnt. All the effects are to hand, including a dummy aircraft correctly equipped to the last detail.

This recruit shows how he would welcome a passenger aboard. But instructor Lawrence has other ideas. No need to scrape and bow, but politely and with a smile. After some practice, it will come naturally.

Inside the mock up aeroplane, a student stewardess answers a call. Mrs. Thomas Traveller is the talkative type. How on earth do I get away from her? In goes teacher to show how. “That's a fine view, Madam, you can see the entire mountain range. Do excuse me a moment”. It's easy if you have the know how.

Now it's time to awaken them. Easy does it. That's not a nice way to behave. The correct way is with a nice cup of tea. Take note and you'll do it correctly next time.

From the well-equipped galley comes luncheon for one. All she has to do is place it upon the table.

Wham! The customer is always right.
Come, come now. This is how. And with the agility born of years of experience, Mr. Lawrence again shows the way.

And so, to the route Topography class, where Instructor Matthews holds sway. Here the students are taught all there is to know about airline journeys to the other side of the world. The many forms to be completed en route, each country having its own requirements in this direction. Timetables to be memorized and other details a well trained operator should know.

The map shows the way. From London, west to the Americas and Canada, east to Cairo, Teheran, Bombay, to Nairobi, Calcutta, Singapore and Tokyo. South to Darwin and Sydney, bringing nation to nation.

Contact. The mighty airscrews of the giant Stratocruiser roar into life. It's a wonderful sight out there on the tarmac.

The crew's cabin looks like a small town power station, completely dwarfing the mechanic in the right hand corner of our picture.

The last word in comfort on the North Atlantic run to Montreal and New York. Still aboard this gigantic stratocruiser, the steward comes up from the lower lounge to show how the berths are made up for the night. It's just a matter of - to bed in London, breakfast in New York.

Behind the scenes at the maintenance hangars, highly skilled mechanics maintain the fullest investigations after every flight. The stringent requirements of the International Certificate of Airworthiness demand that machines are sent to the engineers for regular checks and servicing. An Avro York is towed away.

A Hermes, sistership to that which left earlier for South Africa, moves by, making the mechanic under the tail look very small.

Yes, there are many interesting things to be seen over there where the backroom boys are found.

Situated at Northolt, is London's other main airways terminal. Serving the shorter continental routes, the constant movement of incoming and outgoing traffic makes it a hive of ceaseless activity.

Scandinavian Airways touched down here.

Aer Lingus goes out for Dublin. Another leaves for Copenhagen.

Nearer home, Scottish Airlines. Greece too is represented.

It's movement and more movement all the time.

Where to now? Lisbon, Oslo or Istanbul? A plane is on the tarmac ready to leave for Paris.

Members of the crew go into the briefing room where they learn from the briefing officer of weather conditions, changes in landing facilities abroad, of new runway markings. They get an exact and precise picture at a glance.

It's 1055 and time to embark.

In aerodrome control, the officer gives the pilot the okay to approach runway. A few minutes to go and the air is clear. In 90 minutes, we shall be in the capital city of France.

This is the very first turbo propeller or prop jet airliner, The Viscount, soon to be in regular passenger service. A wonderful picture high above the fields and cities of England, The Viscount keeps a steady course.

In the drawing board stages, when this aircraft was first envisaged, those responsible were faced with the question of following usual design or accepting the latest advancement in civil airline operation. The answer was turboprop, and The Viscount was born. Executives investigating the potential of this jet age machine found that 40 passengers could be taken from London to Rome in under four hours. 2.5 hours less than the present scheduled time.

In the immense factories, skill combines with craftsmanship to produce these airliners for service abroad in addition to those earmarked for our own use.

Every phase of construction is under constant survey.

A closer examination reveals a distinctive line.

After the take-off at Northolt, we are able to have a grandstand view of the ship in flight.

Cutting through the air at more than 300 miles an hour there is practically no vibration, and an experiment with a pencil and a few coins proves most interesting.

From our own aircraft we can see our escort riding high, wide and handsome. A sky of the deepest blue above and pillowed on velvety clouds below.

And so down to earth.

This modern prince of the skies will add much to the story of aviation progress.

The Comet takes the air. This superb, streamlined aircraft is the latest thing in travel. Powered by four pure jet engines, it recently flew 1800 miles in four hours, averaging 450 miles an hour. Or if you prefer it, seven and a half miles a minute.

The last word in rapid transportation, The Comet brings New York within 6 to 8 hours of London, and Australia within a day and a half. Flying at 40,000ft high above the weather and in constant sunshine, 48 passengers in first class comfort will speed to their destination.

Out of its hangar comes our old friend, the helicopter, each day bringing it into greater use and prominence.

At Liverpool Airport a city-to-city service is in operation by these rotary wing planes.

Rising vertically, the experience is almost identical with that of a passenger lift.

With the versatile machines of the air, the helicopter gives an interesting performance of what it can do. It hovers. It flies vertically up or down. Backwards, sideways, an ingenious piece of mechanism.

On time, the captain takes over for the intercity hop. The passengers take their seats, and when the signal is given, up she goes!

In 1943 preliminary investigations were commenced on the Bristol Brabazon. In 1947 she was finally completed. Compare the tremendous wingspan of 230ft with that of Tower Bridge, London, 200ft.

With a passenger carrying capacity of 100 and a crew of 12, this breathtaking airliner provides for a forward lounge, dining saloon, lounge bar and cinema, whilst cruising at 250 miles an hour.

Lord Brabazon, holder of Britain's pilot licence number one, and whose name this aircraft bears, goes aboard.

The unique twin power unit installations go into action as the mighty Brabazon makes ready to leave.

From London Airport, she goes. Another page in the history of wings over the world.


All music should be cleared with 

De Wolfe Music 
Queen’s House 
180-182 Tottenham Court Road