Film ID:
YFA 5833



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This Yorkshire Television production is a portrait of 74 year old Dr Helena Hamilton piloting her De Havilland Hornet Moth at Doncaster airport on a snowy winter’s day in 1988.  Helena shows her passion both for flying, vowing to continue until she is no longer able, and for her beloved plane, something she’s not willing to sell at any price.

The film begins with a 50 year old advertisement for De Havilland Hornet Moth aeroplanes, with a still image of one, G-AHBL.  Then 74 year old Dr Helena Hamilton arrives at a snowy Doncaster airfield in her yellow MG Midget car. Inside the hangar, Helena Hamilton watches as a man swings the propeller of her De Havilland Hornet, taking instructions from her.   

De Havilland Hornet is interviewed in her home about how she got into flying.  A photo of Helena in Burma during World War 2 her pilots licence can be seen. Then her husband is interviewed, talking about her early days, flying a Tipsy Nipper, how he was relieved when she got the safer Hornet Moth, and how she misses it when she can’t fly.  Helena states that flying gives her a sense of perspective when she feels she could have done better in her job as an anaesthetist.  She gets out a flying map and examines it on a table. 

The Hornet is pushed out onto tarmac at the airport.  It is a fine day, with a light wind.  Helena starts the plane up, taxis along the runway, and takes off.  The camera films her inside the cabin as she flies.  She mentions the inspiration of John Magee’s poem ‘High Flight.’  As she communicates with the ground , a voiceover recites the poem.  With the weather changing for the worse, Helena returns to the airfield, having to make adjustments to avoid the wet grass and a sudden cross wind.  One of the controllers remarks on her skill at negotiating a bumpy difficult landing. 

Back at her home Helena talks about her passion for flying – stating that she will continue as long as she passes the flying tests – and for her plane, stating that she wouldn’t sell it for a million pounds.  On the mantelpiece are her trophies and certificates.  At the end she relates how when flying on the Concorde once, she was on the flight deck and Captain Massey said that she flew “a real airplane,” clearly to her delight.  

End credits:
Editor: Alwyn Jones 
Director: Tony Scull
Yorkshire Television