Holiday Helicopter transmitted 29 May 1964
This ambitious BBC 1 programme used an Sikorsky S61N helicopter, then the largest in the B.E.A. fleet, to carry one of the cameras from MCR21 to transmit pictures of the Whitsun Bank Holiday from the air over Kent.
The ariel shots included, Herne Bay, Margate, Broadstairs Ramsgate, Dover, and the traffic jam on the A2 of the holiday makers going home. As the helicopter flew over the Canterbury cricket ground, Peter West, the cricket commentator exchanged a few words and pictures with the helicopter.
MCR21's camera mounted in the helicopter
The Pye Mk6 camera with a Rank Taylor Hobson Varotal III lens with a ‘Dyna’ front attachment. The Pye Image Orthicon Camera was a substantial and heavy item. with the crew and all the associated control equipment, only the largest helicopter could carry it all.
As well as the big camera there was a smaller portable camera to give inside views. ‘Portable’ is a relative term, it was still a big camera compared with more modern cameras.
Installing the camera and equipment
There was a lot of equipment needed for the two cameras:-
Power supplies, control units, control panels, picture monitors, wave form monitors, sync pulse generators, talkback boxes. Transmitters for sound and vision, and transmitters and receivers for talkback.
The commentator, Christopher Trace, sat at the rear of the helicopter with his microphones and probably a TV receiver, for visual cues and continuity.
The Sikorsky S61N on the ground
The twin engined helicopter in pre flight testing mode. Twin ground support tenders in the foreground, the nose hatch is open.
This is thought to be at ‘Margate Airport’, now renamed as Manston Airport.
Camera viewpoint in flight over Kent!
Jack Hayward at the camera.
Note; as a vision control engineer I find the picture interesting, the picture on the camera viewfinder is much clearer than the photograph. One of the tasks on ariel shots, such as this, is to correct the ‘lift’ caused by the atmospherics, by ‘sitting’ the video down. Hence the clearer picture.
The cabin with the engineers and equipment
Two cameras were used, the Pye for the outside views and a smaller 3 inch Ikegami camera for the inside shots. The extensive camera control and communications equipment on the right.
Ken Mossman, Eddie Hartley,
Roger Pearce, Duncan Thomas
BBC Crew left to right:-
Roger Pearce, vision Supervisor,
John Watts, communications,
Brian Johnson, Airborne Director,
Ron Crown, Engineering Manager,
Christopher Trace, Presenter,
Howard Arnall, Ikegami camera Engineer,
Eddie Hartley, Comms., Supervisor,
Jack Hayward, Pye Mk6 cameraman, Supervisor,
Alex Thomas Ikegami cameraman, interior shots.
The B.E.A. pilots; Captain David Eastwood & Co. pilot.
The script for the Canterbury Cricket insert
As the helicopter flew over Canterbury, there was an opportunity to exchange a few words with the commentator at the cricket match which was being covered on BBC2.
The pictures from both sources would have been routed to the mixer in N.C.2 and it is likely that the two way speech would have followed the same route.
A page from the Radio Times
This page details the proposed route and for the day and an outline of the places to be visited and the promise of ‘coverage’ of any unexpected events. “Mods & Rockers” were mentioned, it was 1966 after all!
The programme schedule from Radio Times