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Title:RESCUE FROM CRASHED AIRCRAFT - PART ONE [Main Title]
Film Number:AMY 310
Summary: A training film for RAF rescue and fire crews. A series of re-enactments are staged to illustrate the procedures required, paramount is the rapid recovery of crew to minimise loss of life. Fire remains the greatest menace to all rescue operations.
Description: Film opens in the office of Air Commodore, D M Somerville OBE, director of flight safety, whose duty is to study the reports of all RAF flying accidents. Many pilots today owe their lives to the devotion and professional skills of those charged with recovering personnel and attending crash scenes. Film cuts to an example at RAF Seletor, Singapore where a Meteor has crashed short of the runway and the badly injured pilot was lucky that the personnel who attended the crash knew exactly what actions to take. With the aid of animated diagrams, D M Somerville summarises the sequence of events resulting with the pilot being trapped in the cockpit with a crushed leg. A crane lifts and removes the cockpit section to enable the release of the pilot, after the all important safety pin has been inserted into the ejection seat to deactivate the explosive charge. Meanwhile the crash crew have covered the Meteor in foam and are standing by until the pilot is taken away by ambulance, with the Medical officer in attendance.
Film returns to Air Commodore observing whatever the severity of the crash, flying crew must always be released as a first priority, in case they are alive. This is paramount to all arms of the rescue services.
The Meteor, as for all RAF fighter aircraft, is fitted with the Martin Baker ejection seat. At the factory a group of RAF trainees are examining a ejection seat as the instructor explains the overall construction. It is emphasised that the seats are potentially very dangerous because of the explosive charge, and when working on a seat the absolute priority is the insertion of the deactivating pin. The commentator’s words are supplemented with clear, close up images of the process of removing the seat from an aircraft. Back at their RAF station, the trainees continue their studies: some seats may be removed by crane, others by cutting the fuselage at pre-indicated points and/or operating the external release handles, dependant on the aircraft type. Film shows several different aircraft, including American, and their specific arrangements for the ejection seat.
RAF transport aircraft do not have ejection seats, an example is the Blackburn Beverley (XH117) the largest aircraft in service with the RAF. The Beverley has lower and upper decks and can carry up to 100 crew and passengers. Several emergency exits are available, accessed by handles both inside and outside the fuselage, and cutting points for axes marked externally. If the aircraft is at a height that parachutes may be deployed, several large escape hatches are provided. Film cuts to a Hastings (TG521), the maid of all work. The commentator describes the emergency facilities available, dependant upon the configuration of the aircraft.
Commercial aircraft feature in the film: BOAC Bristol Britannia and BOAC DC7 (Seven Seas) at Heathrow with emergency windows, main door operable from outside, and inflatable chutes at key emergency exits. RAF and Civilian aircraft have the same principals with minor differences, except that RAF aircraft carry armaments (guns, bombs, explosives).
Civilian and RAF fire officers are at the factory where the Valiant V bomber is made, taking the opportunity to examine the rescue features built into the aircraft. Their guide explains how these features may be utilised in an emergency. He notes that the civilian fire services have access to a crane to lift the pilot/crew cockpit assembly out once the canopy is removed, whereas the RAF lowers the crew into the navigation compartment, and out through the main door.
Film cuts to a major RAF station where several Valiants are parked on the hardstanding. Senior representatives of the civilian Fire Brigade are discussing with the RAF officer the extra precautions necessary when attending a Valiant incident, indeed any large RAF aircraft. Bombs can represent a major problem. Most pilots will have the opportunity to jettison them over the sea, and a crashed aircraft that still has bombs on board is safe to approach providing there is no serious fire. A fierce fire is likely to prevent access to the cockpit and the bombs may explode: keep at least 200 yards away
Fire is still the greatest hazard. The RAF has about 4,000 firemen in various stations around the world, also trained in rescue procedures, aided with a variety of specialised vehicles and equipment. Film cuts to the RAF School of Fire Fighting where an exercise for both RAF and Civilian crews is under way. A discarded aircraft is set alight and the rescue crew are spreading foam over and around the aircraft with the Mk 6 RAF crash truck, an all terrain 6 wheeled vehicle. Some of the crew wear fire-proof suits with visors, close up to the burning fuel flames, spraying foam to extinguish the fire. Senior RAF officers are watching and discussing the exercise.