Going up in a 100 year old biplane!

I got a phone call last week from a friend asking if they could borrow the Cub for the day. He started by saying that they wanted to use it as a camera ship for some air to air footage they needed. Knowing there would be formation flying involved and free fuel I was well up for it! He then explained that the film was a WWI drama series coming out in the states and the aircraft we would be filming was a BE2c Biplane! So, what he was asking was if I’d mind them doing some formation flying with an aeroplane that’s 100 years old and one of only a handful flying today.

This was shaping up to be a great day out. But there’s a catch- in order to get the little Cub and myself to the location I’d have to leave home at 3am the next morning! It’s an understatement to say I don’t do early starts very well but this would be worth it.

The next day I got up, drove to the airfield, woke up the Cub for a check over and off we went, flying out to the east, north of all the London airspace. We called in at the Shuttleworth Collection based at Old Warden in Buckinghamshire for some fuel for the aeroplane and myself, then headed into Essex and down past Braintree to a little First World War airstrip called Stow Marie. It’s recently been restored and is starting to exhibit a collection of WWI aircraft.

There was a decent size crowd of film crew, runners, museum enthusiasts and the likes, I always love landing at an aerodrome, chucking out the wheelchair and seeing the look of amazement on peoples faces, its great!


I taxied my way over to this beautiful looking old aeroplane that was the BE2c and they looked like they were having trouble starting it. Its got an old Renault v8 engine that is lubricated with caster oil and takes a lot of nurturing to get going. They finally fired it into life and went off in two aeroplanes for the filming. It was great lying on the airfield grass looking up at these two planes barely moving through the sky together. Brilliant!

As the day started coming to an end and all the filming was done I managed to wangle myself a flight in the biplane. I was chuffed when the pilot agreed to take me up quickly. Not a bad way at all of getting your first biplane experience in a British WW1 kite.

We spent about 20 minutes aloft and though in the pictures I look a little funny with the flying cap and goggles they are completely necessary. You’re sat behind the exposed engine, when your travelling along the oil spits back into your face and it hurts! Any bit of uncovered skin on your face gets burnt a little. You have to wipe the oil off your goggles and are left with a half black face when you land. I really didn’t care about that, in fact it added to the amazing experience of it all!