28 February 2015 | nickdewhurst
A fine series
Wings is a drama series about the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in World War I that ran on BBC television from 1977 to 1978. The series covers the activities of an RFC flight in France and their relatives and friends back in 'Blighty'.Twenty-five episodes were made in all.
It features a young working class blacksmith, Alan Farmer (Tim Woodward) turned fighter pilot, who forms an unlikely friendship with another pilot Charles Gaylion (Michael Cochrane), an upper-class Old Etonian, son of a general, a snob who doesn't believe in social mobility. Gaylion becomes incandescent when he discovers Farmer has been dating his sister Kate (Julia Carey) but sees nothing wrong with dating Farmer's fiancée Lorna Collins (Sarah Porter), a farmer's daughter, while Farmer is missing in France, presumed dead.
Their flight commander is the volatile Captain Triggers (Nicholas Jones). His flight's aircraft carry a pilot and an observer, mostly flying reconnaissance missions, but sometimes acting as spotters for artillery on the ground.
The British pilots are struggling with aeroplanes, such as Bristol Boxkites for flying training and Avro 504s for sorties, which are both unreliable and inferior to the German machines, particularly a new Fokker monoplane (Eindecker). The airmen must also face the resentment of British soldiers enduring the horrors of trench warfare, who see them as having a safe and easy life, sleeping in beds at bases far away from the front line.
In the early days of the war the pilots on both sides fly without parachutes and fire at each other with rifles and revolvers, often waving at their enemies. The British thought at the time that if a pilot had a parachute he would jump from the plane when hit rather than try to save the aircraft. By 1918 some German aircraft were equipped with parachutes, although these were dangerous and often got snagged in spinning planes. The series explains the transition to the fitting of weaponry to British biplanes. Lacking the Germans' interrupter gear, they had to be fired at an angle rather than through the propellers.
Farmer is eventually commissioned because he is the only non-commissioned pilot left in his flight. Thereafter he faces resentment from some officers because of his background and from some rank and file because they feel that as a working class man he belongs with them.