Film Highlights Spitfire Pilot, Crash Landing Footage

May 28, 2013 16 Comments by

Imagine you flew a Supermarine Spitfire out of an Allied base during World War II. Easy enough for most guys, even some gals, right? Now imagine you did a belly landing in one of those famous fighters and a flight surgeon from base captured the event on film. After the war, you and Doc visit, but lose touch decades later. You still remember the film, but you never saw it and after hearing of Doc’s death, you assume it’s MIA.

How, then, would you react when Doc’s descendants eventually contact you and show up at your home with the long-missing footage? If you’re John S. Blyth, you’re pretty darn surprised; to see his reaction and the fantastic story behind it, watch SPITFIRE 944, a Sundance Film Festival short film you won’t soon forget.

And speaking of Spitfires, watch for Flight Journal’s special issue “Spitfire” to arrive at local newsstands soon. It’ll be a keeper!

Civilian, Featured News, Military

About the author

Online Editor I've been around airplanes since I was a kid. That's when my uncle, a professional pilot, showed me how to fly his Cessna 177 Cardinal. l later became a writer and editor, so covering the exciting and ever-changing aviation industry -- which I've been doing in Flight Journal's Flybys since the late '90s -- was a natural fit.

16 Responses to “Film Highlights Spitfire Pilot, Crash Landing Footage”

  1. Geof Bush says:

    What an amazing story!!

  2. Todd Lee says:

    Mike:

    This was a great story to say the least. What history you were able to re-live with this gentleman. It kind of reminds me of my Uncle that flew B-26′s. He is still alive, and everytime I am around him I am mesmorized at the stories he tells of his bombing missions.

    Thank you for doing this story, and keep up the good work.

    Best Regards,

    Todd Lee
    Kennesaw, GA

    • Mike Harbour says:

      Todd:

      I wish I could take credit for the story, but the kudos should go to the film’s narrator and crew; those guys not only preserved and researched Doc Savage’s old footage, but they’re his descendants! BTW, may I make a suggestion? You can do the same thing with your uncle; the next time you two meet, bring a video camera along (or a digital audio recorder at least) and record his experiences for posterity. As you can imagine, we’re losing war vets every day, so doing such a thing would not only preserve his memories for you and the rest of the family, but you’d also be doing history a great service!

      Regards,
      Mike H.
      Flight Journal

  3. Dave Kling says:

    A wonderful story, indeed. Every time I see something like this, I get the feeling I was born one generation too late. I have to take issue with the term “belly-up landing”, though. I think you probably meant to say “wheels-up”, which would result in far less damage to the airplane and pilot.
    Cheers, and thank you, John S. Blyth for your service.

    • Mike Harbour says:

      Dave:

      Thanks for the catch; I actually meant to write “belly landing,” but combine that and wheels-up to get something else!

      Mike H.
      Flight Journal

  4. MajorTarget96 says:

    Wow! This blows me away. If Spits could fly to Berlin then WHY didn’t the Generals put drop-tanks on them to support our bombers like P-51′s?
    Would the drop tanks equal the wing leading edge gas tanks in capacity? Could the “long-wing” version of the Sit have been modified for the escort role I wonder? What a great video!

  5. Gary says:

    Amazing footage and Story. How can I get a DVD of this story to show friends involved with WWII history and a friend that owns and flies a WWII Spitfire.

  6. Rodney Bencke says:

    You may be interested to know that the BBC made a TV documentary called Operation Crossbow which covers some of this story.

    Regards,

    Rod Bencke

    Canberra
    Australia

  7. fconnell says:

    a million attaboys for giving such a great gift to a true hero of ww2

  8. Jimmy holloway says:

    Great story the spitfire has always been my favorite aircraft .

  9. The Squawk Shoppe says:

    That is SOOO COOL!!!!

  10. CHUCK REGNIER says:

    Absolutly Wonderful. Those MEN were Americas greatest Generation.

  11. geo. fraley says:

    I thought I was a subsriber ?

  12. Philip Martin says:

    This video is just great.

  13. James Norbury says:

    Wow. Such dedication to bringing closure to something so dear as a memory ” I wonder what happened to that guy…” Thank you for sharing this moment with such clarity, such a feeling. It is they who gave their lives for us. Somewhere we fly on our thoughts of those who were young and in the heat of a moment, simply got lost in time. This has brought, so clearly, the moments and days few will ever know. The smell on cut grass, aviation fuel and oil brings so much flooding back. Thank you

  14. Jonathan Van Winkle says:

    Truly, The Greatest Generation of Americans. Thank God For Giving America Men Like This ! If Not For These Warriors We Might All Be Speaking German And goosestepping.

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