Aviation | 1950 | Silent | Colour
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An amateur home movie recording the life of an Royal Air Force squadron in Ceylon now Sri Lanka during the 1960s, documenting both work and leisure activities.
Aerial view of a wide river valley, snow covers the sides of the surrounding mountains. An airplane runway, forming a wobbly circle below, airport buildings at opposite ends of the runway. A harbour below, ships are moored at the docks or lay at anchor, a pier extends out into the open harbour, then the port city, low, white buildings stretch away from the waterfront, interspersed with green parklands. Farmland passes quickly, seen beyond a aeroplane wing, green field turn to yellow harvested meadows, then the cut short grass and part of the concrete flat runaway as the plane lands. Spiky bushes blow in the breeze as a plane flies low, directly overhead. A plane flies low away from us over yellow fields towards the runway where it touches down.
Very foggy or smoky, the buildings lining a street seen through a car window, vehicles, cars and trucks are parked along the side of the pavement. The landing gear and wheels of a plane from above as the runway moves rapidly past, the wheels touch the pavement. A man, possibly a pilot, stands underneath a plane beside the front wheel, the propellers turn behind him, the top of the man' s body disappears behind a part of the plane as he works fixing something, them and is dwarfed by the huge wheels that are nearly as tall as he is. Ceylonese men look into the hold of plane, they wear a variety of military (probably different R.A.F.) uniforms, a white man in uniform approaches behind and moves to take something out of the hold. Four RAF officer, two in tropical uniform ( e.g. shirts, sunglasses and rolled up shirt sleeves), stand on the tarmac, behind, a plane with yellow stairs attached to it and a car, one of the men caries two attaché cases, one of the men, a very tall officer turns and walks towards us. Three Royal Air Force men stand in a group and talk on the tarmac, behind them a colonial soldier in white uniform marches on guard duty, the three men break apart and turn towards us. A plane with '220' painted in red with a white border beside the loading door of the plane, Sri Lankans stand around the door, some in uniform, others in white flowing cotton clothing, one man walks down a short flight of stairs to the tarmac holding sheets of paper. A patch of oil possibly, or raw gun powder on the tarmac, a large plane wheel behind. Very dark picture but believe it is three RAF officers standing in front of the RAF Post Building, one bends over to scratch his knee.
A whole squadron of pilots, some in entire uniform, some only in half (ie. Casual shirts rather than uniform shirts) walking down a street, lined on one side with booths and ramshackle shops, with sheets maybe protecting their goods from the sun. Four little male children, all with heads shaved, one of the older boys is carrying the youngest, two are picking their noses, all of them are in very raggedy shirts. Six people stand in a street, traffic moving behind them, looking at the camera, five are locals, maybe Sri Lankan or Indian or Bangladeshi, they all look very interested in the filming. A street trolley drives quickly along a very dusty street in the town Ceylon. A cream-coloured bus waits as the RAF crew board it, the door is surrounded by local people interested in what they are doing on the bus and looking towards the camera with intense interest, more R.A.F. members get on the bus. The face of a middle aged Indian worker, his hair done in interesting twisting style, he smiles at the camera and makes a twisted bow. A crowd of Indians stand at the entrance to the bus all looking inside with interest, the man with the twisted hair is at the front of the crowd, he speaks. Inside the bus all the men are seated, most of them have shirts and ties on though it is obviously hot out, some have sunglasses on, they talk and laugh together.
Traffic drives around and people walk over or bicycle beside a horse lying in the middle of the road, possibly dead, the bus passes the horse.
A man stands in front of a plane with his arms a 'Y' in the air, the plane's propellers are going and become as whirr as the plane picks up power. Inside the cockpit, the pilot takes off his earphones, the co-pilot leans over and talks to him. The ocean seen from underneath the airplane wing, a thickly forested coastline in the distance. A river delta with small islands separated by branches of the river mouth, very green land. Below, the airbase possibly, cut out of the jungle near the shore or the ocean. Tropical looking trees fly by as the plane lands. Part of the plane where the pilot or possibly gunners head is sticking out of the plane body in a clear bubble surrounded by antennae or flags. A blue and red striped triangle flag flies beside the gun turret (?). The wing, the background is too dark to see. At night possibly, a RAF officer in full dress uniform. Still very dark, can just make out two men shaking hands, dressed in uniform, they walk away together. The two men approach a man standing beside a car, they speak.
Two women in long Sri Lankan dress with black parasol umbrellas walk down a road beside a wooden post fence behind which stands a comfortable bungalow.
At night again possibly or maybe just dark film, a man walks around a plane, probably. A group of airmen crowd around a few opened rations bags, they sit on the luggage or stand on the tarmac eating, some have got their shirts off. The group of men sit beside a large plane, it looks as if the supplies they are consuming have just been unloaded from the plane, down a short ladder. They all look up towards the wing of the Lancaster (?) plane at the camera. Two men carry a piece of machinery between them away from the large green plane across the grooved tarmac. Men roll a large piece of machinery or equipment out from under the tail of the Lancaster, it rolls easily over the special tarmac surface on ball bearing rollers. The ground crew waits as another load is lowered from the bay of the plane, they take hold of the bundle to guide it safely to the ground. A crew member walks across the tarmac with a bundle of something in his arms, possibly a parachute, he moves towards two men holding a large red sack between them who are walking away from the plane, then two planes , one marked 'L' and the other marked 'M' on the nose sit on the runway, women stand under the nose of 'M' and talk.
The right wing of a plane as it flies in the blue sky. The left wing of the pane in slightly cloudier conditions, it is marked by the RAF roundel. Cloudy haze behind the plane as it flies. The pilot with breathing mask on reads the map, he looks out the window around at what is below him, then back at the map. In the body of the plane, the navigator sits at a small desk with earphones on and a map in front, he puts his hands to his ears and then energetically marks something on the map. Faintly through haze a bird flies trough the clouds, level with the plane.
A small peninsula juts out into the ocean far below the clouds. A ship ploughs through the water beneath the plane. Water passes underneath the plane, then a battleship, then more blue, blue water, whitecaps break the surf every once in a while. A white streak in the sea out of the plane window. The white foam streak in the water then the pilot of the Royal Navy boat that produces it. A large many-gunned battleship. The same battle ship passing under and behind the plane. Far below, a rocky headland with a lighthouse at the tip. Through much fog and mist you can see the shoreline far below. The smiling faces of two of the crewmen. Two men come out of a building dressed in uniform with berets on head. A group of men get in the back of the army truck. A 'Squadron Command' sign with a coat of arms on it, 'No. ? Squadron Royal Air Force' and 'Kathoromen Alstoi' written in ancient Greek below.
A man walks along a veranda with some papers in his hands, out of the sun. A little girl in a purple dress runs around a black car. Through a haze, people stroll along a water front path, a family sits at a picnic table by the sea. Sri Lankans walk leisurely amongst stopped cars on a country road, most of which have their trunks open, everyone is dressed in white. A woman leans out of a green car, people walk past the long line of cars stuck on the road, not moving.
Children run down the side of a street behind a man with a yoke hanging with two baskets waiting to cross a city street but the traffic is very busy. Men holding giant blossoming tree branches slowly turn their bicycles around in the street and follow one after the other. Men holding the flowering branches of trees ride towards us wobbly on their bicycles, a swath of fabric creates a canopy, obviously some religious local festival. A parade, men with giant papier-mâché heads on walk along the road coming up to children to scare them, a band passes, women play flute-like instruments and men play large drums, people follow them dancing.
The lush green forest on a mountain sweeps down to the sea. A large, dome shaped religious building, mosque, shrine or church. Far below the round mosque, the plane circles around it, its wing dipping with the steep banking movement. Hazy fog. Green countryside below. The landscape passes beneath the plane as it flies overhead. Hazily, a raft in the water. A small temple in a village surrounded by jungle. A ship in the seas, the plane passes near it. Haze.
A ground crew member slides the blocks up behind the wheels of a plane, he takes a strap and starts to secure it. A man climbs forward down a ladder out of a plane, a man sits on a bicycle at the bottom. Three men stand talk in a the bottom of the ladder, a local coolie waits behind them. Men stand beside a bus talking and smoking, the local worker closes the back doors of the bus. The men still stand outside the bus talking.
The squadron in their swimming costume, some lie on lounge chairs, others lay on a pool deck or stand around them. Two of the men sitting on benches wave their legs in the air and everyone laughs. Two people dive into a pool from the side, then a girl in a bathing cap jumps off a diving board into the water feet first. The entire squadron jumps one after the other off the diving board, some jump feet first, there is one good dive, a belly flop and a funny bit a the end where the man stops and makes a little dinky diving position and tumbles off the board. Four men swing one man between them and throw him into the pool. The squadron all bob up and down in the pool, one man splashes another, two do half backward summersaults. The men surface from under the water all at the same time in a circle.
A boat sails as the plane flies by, then haze. A battleship sails below on the blue water. The long body of a battleship as the plane flies low to the water, then haze. A pilot flies the plane, seen from below. One of the crew members talks to the pilot, he yells something in his ear, the pilot nods. Below a battleship ploughs through the water. A bird flies through the air. The bird flies through palm trees. It hovers and lands in a field. Four brown and black speckled eggs in a nest, beside a bottle of 'Ford ?' tablets. The bird swerves towards us and lands in the same field again. It takes off and flies away from us. Twigs and moss and grass and brush, not sure what is supposed to be of interest here.
Two officers talk in a launch together, other men work around them. One officer stands in front of the Air Force flag, with the Union Jack and the roundel in the bottom right corner, at the back of the boat, the flag waves in the breeze. The other officer's face as the boat goes by a green coastline.
Blackness. People sitting a the back of an audience at night. Sign beside a road 'H.M.S. Highflyer R. N. Barracks', cars and bicycles pass on the road. Two young local men stand on a sidewalk looking in a clothes shop window, people pass behind them going both ways, a lady with a basket on her head, and men in sarongs. A man waits under the cover of a building from the rain, a car pulls up in front of the building and then slowly pulls away from the side of the pavement, a woman with a head scarf walks out into the rain from behind the man, the man continues to wait. Blackness and then park in the rain. A Volkswagen van pulls up behind a covered cart hitched to two water buffalo, the van pulls into a parking space behind. A group of men from the squadron stand talking on the balcony of a hotel room above a sunny, busy street, one of the men has a camera, he shows it to one of his friends and then points it towards the camera, focuses and presses the button. A shy and embarrassed young Indian girl in a brown and yellow dress stands at the other end of the balcony, she sways and swings her arms as she laughs and then becomes still as the camera moves down her body, showing her dress blowing in the breeze.
The sign of the Zoological Gardens of Ceylon, over a wrought iron gate, then some of the airmen walking through the gate, a couple of Ceylonese in long sarong skirts walk through as well. The men mill around at the gate. Three grey birds with pointy feathers on their heads and orange cheeks. A row of Englishmen stand in front of a ostrich, a black Ceylonese with no shirt on walks on a grass path between the Ostrich and the men, then the ostrich, at least three feet taller than any of the men, aggressively waving its wings stands in a straw lined enclosure. A man in white coat with a camera around his neck comes down some stairs underneath a canopy of greenery, more of the air squadron comes down the stairs, some with cameras, they stroll slowly. A hazy outline of some fish in green water swimming between the reeds. Through a wire and concrete fence, some of the men look into the greenery. In a cage, an animal, possibly a monkey hops down from a branch to the ground, very dark. A sign, partially covered by part of a hand, 'Adjutant STORK/ PTOPTILUS DUBIUS' and then below something in swirly writing. Very dark, but possibly birds with golden feathers sticking up out of the back of their heads. Possibly a jaguar, panther, or other wild cat comes down from rearing up on its back legs. The cat sits and looks out of the cage. Very dark, a tiger prowls around the perimeter of its cage. From above a hippopotamus sits in its watery hole in the sun. Two women in saris stand with their backs to us in front of an enclosure, a tall man walks behind them. Children stand in front of the monkey cage, another group of children walk away from the viewing area. Three elephants stand sideways swinging their tails, in front, a direction sign. A young thin boy walks down a road with a large grey elephant, they turn a corner together. A group of people stand in front of animal cage, the animal is not visible. A giraffe bits its own neck, grooming itself, it moves backwards down its body, its neck making a giant loop, then it unbends its neck to look at us.
The head of a pilot in front of a plane window in front of blue sky, the pilot has head gear on with large earphones. The right wing of a plane as it flies through the sky. A low mountain range below the right wing of a plane, dark green under a bit of cloud and fog. The fog has thickened, almost obscuring the mountains. The low mountain range covered in fog. The taller peaks push up out of the fog, as the cloud clears slightly. Far below the wing of a plane, a river flows swiftly, covered in white water showing where the river narrows and goes over a short waterfall. Heavy fog hides the mountain below from view. A square possible water reservoir, or man altered harbour in the middle of a town surrounded by mountains, the houses come close to the water's' edge. The town climbs up the sides of the surrounding mountains from the water far below, a couple of ships sit in the harbour. The plane flies close to a tall precipice, the rest of the valley is seen far below, the ruins of a town remains on the top of the rocky outcrop. Thick cloud and fog. A plane moves across the tarmac while a ground crew member runs towards it and directs it, the plane turns on the spot. The propellers of the plane slow as the engines shut off. The pilot of the plane hangs out of the window talking to someone outside, then two members of the ground crew looking up and talking to the pilot. From a flying plane, fast sailboats skim across the surface of the ocean water. The plane flies low as the sailboats race each other. A harbour full of cargo ships below. The harbour from the opposite direction, the ships protected by the break water behind them. Fog again, then the left wing of the plane emerges from the fog. Fog and water condensation moves quickly over the wing of the plane as it flies through a cloud. The back of the pilots head looking out the front window of the plane. A plane taxis along the tarmac and picks up speed as it drives along the runway. A helicopter passes just coming down to land, its router still turning.
A bird flies down from a change. A bird flies up to the eaves of a house from a grassy lawn. The pavement rushes past underneath the plane as it picks up speed to take off, then the ground slowly recedes away as the plane takes off, the pavement ending in green grass as the plane leaves the ground, then below the forest surrounding the air base. A large ship sails along far below. A navy ship sails along the ocean, the plane passes it by. The bomb doors of the plane open and small bombs are dropped out over the water, they splash into the ocean. A cloud far below over the forest of the area, a steep mountain rises out of the forest. The delta of a river as it winds its way through the flat forest land. From behind the wing, the landing gear of the plane lowers as the ground comes closer as the plane comes in for landing, the wheel touches the ground. Four men stand on top of a wing doing maintenance work. The right wing of the plane as it flies. The right wing of the plane and the forest far below. A sailor climbs backwards out of the plane, '220' painted on the side, he turns and walks away from the plane and is greeted by some of the officers of the air squadron. A navy ship passes underneath on the ocean below, then another passes, then another, then a larger one, possibly a destroyer. Five navy ships in a convoy formation sail past a headland. A large vessel sails, then another sailing quite close to the shore. Three ships round a peninsula in a row. The flat ending of the wing as the plane flies over the ground. The left wing of the plane and the forested area near the water below. The beginning of the mountains of the inland area. Another plane flies through a cloud far below or above the plane the camera is in.
A Buddhist monk walks, wrapped in his orange robe. Huts lined up below the trees. A street busy with people then the magazines and comics being sold by one store. A man sits on a three footed stool on the sidewalk, then the rest of the street there people walk to various destinations. Piles of rubble beside beautifully carved columns? Lying on their sides. A mother washes off the feet of a small girl standing on the stairs with water from a bucket below the columns, she picks the girl up, empties out the rest of the water and turns to walk away. The top of a tall arch, then below the arch, a flight of stairs built underneath it, two men climb the stairs. A monk passes by in front of an pointed dome structure, the monk walks slowly in bare feet. A crowd of people inside a monastery? Monks wrapped in their orange robes come out of a gate. Monks surrounded by a crowd. A workers pounds some stone with a tool. A crowd of people on a covered patio.
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