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HEAVYLIFT CARGO AIRLINES: SHORTS BELFAST

PUBLISHED: 13:46 29 June 2011 | UPDATED: 14:09 10 October 2012

HEAVYLIFT CARGO AIRLINES: SHORTS BELFAST DVD (103 minutes) $25 (plus approx $9 postage), www.worldairroutes.com

HEAVYLIFT CARGO AIRLINES: SHORTS BELFASTDVD (103 minutes) $25 (plus approx $9 postage), www.worldairroutes.com Review by Tony French'Poignant' isn't a word I’d expected to apply to a big-bellied, four-engined transport, or this DVD filmed on its flight-deck, but as I sat down to write the review I learned of the 2003 failure of HeavyLift Cargo Airlines. It makes this record of four flights of even greater interest.We share the cockpit with pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer. The engineer takes us on his walkround before the first flight, and later gives us a rundown on his part of the cockpit – a bit of a list ("Here we have the air-conditioning"), but it completes the picture. And the co-pilot shows us the main panel, with TCAS and GPS added since G-HLFT was built.

As with other films in the series, there’s plenty of filming from the window, of cities, airports and approaching runways. Inside the cockpit we can read selected instruments from time to time, and we zoom in close enough to see plates as an approach is being briefed. I noted at one stage that I was being shown most of the things I wanted, but being greedy I wanted even more as the flights and film progressed – the yellow-faced, yellow-tailed gecko on the runway at Dakar was a bonus. The other airfields visited are Paris CDG, Las Palmas, Madrid and Southend – coming home over the Thames.

We hear quite a few radio exchanges, but it takes a sharp ear to pick up every bonjour and adios. That aspect of the filming could have been better. But it’s used well to alert us to the progress of some flights, and there are a couple of captions showing flight times, when crossing the barren coast of Mauritania, for instance.

Even a turnaround is well covered – servicing the engines from a tall and precarious stepladder on a windswept apron, two crew manhandling the heavy tow bar into the hold – it’s not what you’d call glamorous.

The style of the series is not to have narration, relying instead on normal crew briefings, r/t and the pictures to tell the story, along with the occasional crew member talking to camera about the instrument panel. That’s quite a demanding style of film-making. Most of the time it works, and we certainly don’t lose the realism. But there are times when I want to be told a little more.

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