1 joined Kingston late in my working life after 35 years as an Engineering Officer in the RAF. My connection with aeroplanes stemmed from the fact that my father (WF Goose) was the Rolls~Royce 'rep' at the A&AEE, Martlesham Heath for all of the 1930s until it moved to Boscombe Down immediately before the 1939 45 war. I got really interested in aeroplanes in the mid 1930s when I was about 12 and I watched aircraft from the airfield boundary in my boarding school holidays. Occasionally my father would take me along for a closer look if there was anything special about. I clearly remember being taken to see the prototype Hurricane when it first arrived at Martlesharn in 1936. (I should mention that 'security' as we now known it was virtually non existent in those days, with the main Woodbridge Felixtowe road going right through the middle of the camp.)
On another occasion my father took me, and my younger brother who can vouch for the event, to watch some filming at Martlesham. I am uncertain of the date but it must have been
during the school summer holidays in 1937 or 1938 probably 1937 because politics would rule out the later date. We saw a single, silver painted Hurricane just standing there, starting, taxying out, flying very fast and aerobatically, landing and taxying back (perhaps more than once I'm not sure). It was being filmed by several very impressive cameras of a Hollywood company. I cannot remember its name, but it was a top one and if I had to guess it would be MGM.
I remember that it was a wonderful summer afternoon with just a few fair weather cumulus with some vertical development in the distance providing a perfect background to the flying the director was very excited because of what he had heard about British weather. The director himself was the film director of our youthful imagination short and stocky wearing breeches, brown leather boots with leggings and a rather flamboyant jacket. He smoked a large cigar while he commanded all the activity from a typical folding canvas 'director's chair'. His name was Elmer 'something'; I can't remember the initial or surname but the given name sticks because it was the first time I had come across it and it came, to me, to personify the schoolboy's idea of a 'Yank'. What is particularly annoying is that I was a keen autograph collector in those days and I got the director's autograph with full name, date, film company and the planned name of the film. I had the autograph book for years but it went missing during one of the many moves in my life.
I cannot remember, if I ever knew, the story of the film but it was to be a commercial film for public entertainment, possibly called The Shadow of the Wing" or something very similar. As far as I know the film was never released in the UK; the whole family was watching out for it, and I have never heard of or seen the film material being used. Whether after all this time the material still exists in a usable state must be very doubtful but it might be worthwhile for an enthusiast to follow it up. As a start, the filming must have had some special clearance in RAF/Air Ministry and Hawker circles for security and insurance, and to define who should do the flying, and do the paying and to whom. If the files on these matters still exist and could be traced (Public Records Office? any volunteers? Ed.) they might well lead further.
The whole episode seemed remarkable then and it seems even more remarkable now.