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EUROPEAN: Bac 1-11, B737-200

PUBLISHED: 13:54 29 June 2011 | UPDATED: 14:09 10 October 2012

EUROPEAN: Bac 1-11, B737-200 DVD (185 minutes) $30 (plus approx $9 postage),

EUROPEAN: Bac 1-11, B737-200DVD (185 minutes) $30 (plus approx $9 postage), Review by Tony French87 airlines have accepted this DVD and video company's cameras in their cockpits. The basic idea is simply to give a view over the pilot's shoulder of the instruments and controls during the most interesting stages of a flight – but we get more than that.

Any pilot – student or instructor, of any aircraft, big or small – will appreciate these films in greater depth than a non-pilot enthusiast, although that is probably the target audience. When a crew member turns around and briefs us, not many concessions are made for the general viewer.

There are 32 DVDs so far in the series. The 'European' of this title is the charter arm of the Bournemouth-based European Aviation Group.

The nineteen tracks on this DVD cover ten flights. Divide the overall running time of 185 minutes by ten and you'll get the average devoted to each flight. That breaks down in a number of ways. We accompany a walkround on each type, share the handling pilot's pre-flight briefing in the cockpit, hear ATC give us clearance, watch the take-off, hear "V1, rotate, V2" being called, and share the more interesting moments en route—all this from inside the cockpit.

I certainly found myself getting involved. I was leaning forward, urging the aircraft around a turn or watching for a light. Documentaries with narrators and written scripts inevitably distance us from the subject. Here, when pilots speak to us, their only script is the plane and its panel, or Jepp charts being shuffled and thumbed as approaches and missed approaches are briefed.

The camera zooms in sufficiently to read a chart in the pilot's hands, glances out of the window when crossing snowy alpine forests, or crossing a stormy South Coast, and watches intently during wet and windy landings – "gusting 31" says ATC – I replayed that one. At times like that, every landing seems a controlled crisis.

Two of the flights are on the last scheduled commercial flights of the airline's BAC-111 G-AZMF, from Bournemouth to Turin and back. The remainder are on B737-200 G-CEAE, from Stansted to Geneva, to Belfast. Then legs involving Stansted and Geneva again, Hanover, Palma and Bournemouth. These are both pre glass-cockpits, and all the more interesting for that.

Three times in quick succession, during one cockpit briefing to camera, the autopilot trips in turbulence – "the aileron channel" explains the First Officer, while the Captain signals for seat-belts. Not the biggest drama, but we are there at the sharp end – that's the bit the windblown First Officer banged on from the outside during his walkround to signal for the lights to be tested.

I calculate we get sixteen hours flying time, plus walkrounds, condensed into a three-hour DVD. The filming is by available light, but clear – with an honest bit of camera turbulence as we follow a pilot's hand to a control, or zoom in to see a reading. Great stuff.

I'll review a few others in the series in the coming months. If you explore the website, to order or discover other titles, be prepared to be patient with slow loading (there are many graphics) and look for DVDs, not just videos.

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