Skies Above Britain: Series 1
Skies Above Britain explores the complex, hidden world of the skies above us and discovers the human stories of the people who spend their life in flight.
Part 1: Flying into Danger
The complex and hidden world of the skies above us and the human stories of the people who spend their life in flight, beginning with how the skies are safeguarded. Air traffic controllers deal with an unidentified aircraft flying across Gatwick’s flight path and the RAF scramble a typhoon jet to intercept an unresponsive plane. Elsewhere, two vintage plane enthusiasts explore their continued passion for flight, despite having faced personal tragedy in the air.
Part 2: Conquering the Skies
Air traffic controllers guide a passenger jet with a major technical fault safely to the ground, before responding to an unidentified flying object detected on radar screens. Meanwhile, British Airways Captain Paul Bonhomme takes part in an air race at Ascot, and a YouTube blogger realises he must undertake special training for his new camera-drone. Plus, a woman tries to overcome her fear of flying, and a man sets out to prove that he can learn to fly, despite having restricted growth.
Part 3: Beneath the Clouds
For thousands of recreational pilots, uncontrolled airspace – the skies beyond commercial routes – are a place of freedom and adventure and for many, flying in them can become an obsession. Al Coutts and Willie Cruikshank are the Wildcats, two former RAF pilots who perform aerobatic stunts at air displays across the UK. With several recent tragedies at air shows, Al and Willy must finish their display season safely. Julia Foxwell is a champion skydiver who relinquished her crown after having her first child. Now she is juggling motherhood with an intense training schedule as she attempts to win again at the National Skydiving Championships.
Part 4: When Speed Counts
Racing champion Martin is a member of the oldest flying club in Britain, the Royal Aero Club. He is preparing to compete for the Schneider Trophy, where 14 pilots will fly wing to wing around outlying islands in Alderney in the Channel Islands. The hair-raising race attracts an eclectic mix of pilots, from Geoffrey, a baron, to dentist Roger, who has bought his first plane especially for the race. East Midlands Airport is the cargo hub that connects the whole of Britain to the world beyond. A hundred and fifty thousand parcels run through DHL’s warehouse each night. Graham, a senior sorter, must make sure his team can respond when a crucial conveyor belt breaks down, while senior loader Tony Parkinson works against the clock to load thousands of parcels onto cargo flights.
Part 5: London Skies
The job with the highest pressure at NATS is keeping everyone safe entering or leaving London’s airspace, one of the busiest patches of sky in the world. Up to four thousand people can be in the hands of just one controller at any one time. Tom and Tim, two of the thousands who aspire to be the next generation of air traffic controllers, are beginning the rigorous three-year course. But for some, the growth in air traffic is too much. Martin Barraud, resident of a once-quiet village in Kent, is leading a campaign to stop the narrowing of flight paths and increased noise overhead. Activist Sheila and protest group Plane Stupid use direct action to raise awareness of the environmental cost of flying but face a possible jail sentence for taking part in a sit in on Heathrow’s runway.