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Page last updated at 07:54 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 08:54 UK
Brabazon footage is found in shed



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The footage of the Bristol Brabazon was found in a shed

Sixty years on from the maiden flight of the Bristol Brabazon, rare air-to-air footage has been discovered.

It was filmed by the late Ted Ashman who was chief photographer at Filton from just after the war up to the early 1980s.

His career started with the Bristol Aeroplane Company, then on to the British Aircraft Corporation and subsequently BAe.

Although mainly a stills photographer, he also filmed the aircraft and his son Stuart Ashman found the old film cans in his shed.

"I thought it might be footage of the Brabazon but I had never seen it and had no idea what was on it.

"At Filton my father recorded all stages of production as well as first flights and 'air-to-air' photography.

They would have sent it up to get pictures for the pilot and test flight crew and engineers so they could watch it later from the outside and see how it was performing.
Andy Warren

"He also flew on many occasions as there were VIP visits from royalty and heads of state and even film stars," he said.

The Bristol Brabazon was designed and built at Filton and designed to fly between Europe and the United States.

The plane was never put into production as airliners decided it was too big to be commercially viable.

Andy Warren, aviation specialist of 1st Take in Yate, who transferred the film from 16mm for Stuart, said he had rarely seen such air to air footage from that time.

"Usually it is mainly ground movement or take-offs and landings.

"Ted Ashman would have been in a small chase aircraft such as a Bristol freighter.

"They would have sent it up to get pictures for the pilot and test flight crew and engineers so they could watch it later from the outside and see how it was performing.

"They would also be able to look at the control surfaces like the flaps and tail fin."

Stuart Ashman said he was delighted that people would now be able to see his father's work and that it had been recognised.

You can find out more about the Bristol Brabazon by watching Inside Out on BBC One West - Monday, 19 October at 7.30pm. You can also watch the programme via the iPlayer.


Do you remember when the Brabazon first flew? Did you watch it take off from Filton Airfield in 1949? We'd love to hear your memories of the day.

I must have been about four years old and I remember standing in the back yard of my parents small shop on Kingswood High Street as the Brabazon passed right above us. It seemed to hang there, a huge grey shape filling the sky as it moved very slowly on.
Linda, Bristol

My Dad was the engineer responsible for the nose cone, at the time we lived in Farnborough. I can remember Mum getting me and my twin brother out of the bath and to race, naked outside to see Dad's Brabazon go over our home. I can remember, even at the age of seven being so proud that my Dad had built this airplane.
John, Bath

I was 13 at the time on Filton golf course next to the fence. I was one of the lucky ones as I had a pair of binoculars - a rare thing in those days we didn't know she was going to take off. Everybody was jumping up and down when she got off the ground - very similar reactions to Concorde's last flight, a very memorable day.
Brian, Bristol

I was 12 years old and cycled with a friend from Kingswood (east Bristol). I remember we had a packet of biscuits which we shared. We looked in awe as we watched this big plane. Would it really take off? After all, we were told at school that the village of Charlton was demolished to create the long runway needed for the take off. The memories of that day are as clear as yesterday, it was great to see the footage.
Roger, Yate


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