The Original Spitfire Surprise Low Pass
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The original low pass when a WW2 aircraft buzzed the camera crew shooting the open of a documentary on the 60th Anniversary of the Spitfire we produced for American television. Despite hearing on the radio from the control tower that the Spitfire was rolling we couldn't see the aircraft against the sky and thought the presenter's link would be over before the aircraft arrived. In actuality the pilot had lifted off then raised the undercarriage and kept the aircraft low so he hugged the ground and was lost to our eyes against the grass runway. We first noticed him when he crossed the tarmac roadway and dust was flicked up. That was when the still photograph was taken and immediately we all hit the deck as the presenter was pushed over by the downdraft from the Spitfire as he pulled up, no doubt laughing all the way. The pilot was a friend of the presenter and having fun with us or he'd have never pulled that stunt. Ray, the pilot, was a former leader of the Royal Airforce aerobatic team the Red Arrows and regarded as one of the finest pilots of his generation. We were lucky to film with him many times but this, the first time, was probably the most hair-raising encounter we had. Ray Hanna was a consumate professional and his remarkable flying prowess was saught after by display organisers and film directors the world over. Gemini Pictures


Toolpusher : You never, ever forget the first time you hear that Merlin engine for real. My first time was an anniversary year for the Battle of Britain, a few decades back. A Spitfire did several low passes of the RAF Club, near where I lived in Edinburgh. That can keep your Ferraris and park yer Porsches, if the sound of a Merlin doesn't move you, you're probably already dead.

Burt Hulbert : the world's most drop dead gorgeous aircraft bar none.

oldiron1223 : British fighter pilots, take off, raise the gear, descend to cruising altitude.

bowser515 : I always knew this was a low pass, but that picture really takes it to another level, nice catch! Ray had quite the life.

spacecadet35 : I like how Ray pulls up to go over the reporter.

stangace20 : it's funny how if you haven't seen this vid in a while, you STILL look at the sky behind him when you hear it but find it's coming at them at 2 feet off the ground instead,lol

Frank McGorman : The pilot "agreed to fly a low pass".... he just didn't say HOW low! This vid never gets old :)

methylene5 : I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed this, but if you watch it again and look closely there is actually a guy in a light blue shirt talking about something when the spit comes.

Dave Jones : My fortunate dad flew many a Spitfire (as well as Mustangs, Hurricanes, Harvards, and trained in Tiger Moths in Canada) for the RAF over Europe and Malaya. I have loved his hundreds of stories since first being able to understand them. Every time he and I watched this clip, he would laugh loudly, cry a bit -- and so would I. Then we'd talk about fighter planes for the next few hours -- one of his favourite topics. Yesterday I was thinking about what the ultimate fuck-you gesture could be. I decided that it was buzzing some unsuspecting German or Malayan Communist Party cadre in a Spitfire at 500-600mph. And given the presenter's words at the end, I believe I might be dead right. RIP Dad. Died at 91, December 10th, 2014. We miss you, your erudition and your old school eloquence.

AstronomyToday : Imagine being a German back in the 40's and seeing that shit coming down the road at you like that.

gmctech : My great uncle flew spitfires. He was in the RCAF and mainly flew in desert campaigns. I have his wings, pictures and letters home to my grandmother. it's so sad that it affected him so much he never ever spoke of the war... when I'd ask him as a young child he'd choke up and just walk away. I never understood that till I got older and realized just how violent and deadly his war life was... I may only fly Cessnas but whenever I fly, his RCAF wings are always on my chest to honour him... I'll never forget the look I got from my flight instructor who trained Lancaster pilots when I hopped in for my final test flight to get my wings and he saw my RCAF wings.. he actually got angry a bit before I explained to him the history of those wings and just how much they meant to me. After that the mutual respect we had for each other was noticeable. I always get a lot of questions when people see my dirty old wings and not bright gold wings when I enter the clubhouse for a flight. I feel honoured and at ease knowing that these wings have been through whenever I fly. I guess you could say they're my lucky charm.... I always pin them on with a heavy heart but uncalculateable pride.

neil phillips : Brilliant, , , ,, British engineering, ,sucnh a beautiful aeroplane ,

lowrez mobius : This is one of the best low passes I've seen.

Silje Anthonsen Meum : My father also flew the beautiful MH434 and the other gorgeous machines at OFMC. He did a lot of shows with Ray Hanna and Mark, may they both rest in peace. I still tear up just seeing their shenanigans on YouTube. Nothing was like having Mark visiting us in Norway in the winter or the way dear old Ray put up with my chattering away in poor English and playing with my Barbies when we came to Duxford! two great men of many talents and dazzling charisma <3

SW6 : At 0:30 seconds the Spitfire kicks up dust.

ulpilotrmh : Lost count of the number of times I've watched it, it never gets old. Ray was best at this.

Spartan448 : The best shot of this is when the camera pans over to the Spit flying right at it. You can pinpoint the exact moment when the cameraman blinked and thought to himself "Oh. Shit."

Thomas White : you can tell the way the plane was angled, he was flying about waist height before he angled up to pass the camera crew.

Chris Pellatt : What a gorgeous and yet terrifying piece of machinery. Listening to the Merlin v12 is a thing of beauty.

Jack Frost : I thought he was much higher so I was waiting for him to pop out behind the reporter. I actually kind of jumped when I he popped out of that tree line because he was so well blended into the back round.

Toby Potts : One of the coolest films ever. What an epic low pass.

Davi Lu : I've watched this video so many times over many years.

ben5shuttle : A stunning video, which should never be lost off YouTube. Ray Hanna what a stunning pilot...what a loss to the pilot community.

Shaun Chandler : One can never get tired of the sound of that Merlin....

Keyboard Krazy : Look carefully on reporters left hand side!....... so low the Spit is invisible against the tree line 😧👍🏻👍🏻zzzzzzzzZzzzzzzZZZZZOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM. Ray did not GET INTO an aircraft......he PUT IT ON......he became one with the airframe! I 😉would estimate the prop tips at no more than 2 feet from the ground, THAT is precision flying! DEEP RESPECT from one pilot to a legend! The late great Ray Hanna......Red One.............HIGH FLIGHTS AND CLEAR SKIES RAY......RIP.🇬🇧

BazSmiles : Do you think we can bump this up to a million views? :-)

andellades : Respect to Ray Hanna!

Darren Farley : That is just awesome. What an amazing pilot. Clean trousers please!!!

James Barber : A most special pairing of men, the Hannas. I am privileged to have known them through tiger squadron. They were amazing. I have had carried this clip on my phones for the past 10 years.....never fails to make a smile. What they could do in an aeroplane was remarkable.

legendario13 : The absolute madman!

counterfit5 : Alain de Cadenet is always a class act on camera. Except when he almost gets decapitated by a propeller.

Wayne Taylor : masterfull piece of flying by the late great Ray Hannah !

Donald Parlett jr : Ray Hanna was a hell of a pilot. Great feel for the acft

Wings TV : The photo at the end of the video - taken by the producer on location is now available via Through this service orders can be produced by a fulfilment location in reasonably close proximity - hopefully not in another country..! Available are two versions, a wider shot and a close up shot. You can order a print, framed print or canvas or on one version, even a shower curtain! The original negative required some restoration and has been drum-scanned by a professional lab to get the best version we can get. We tested the image by ordering a 36" wide canvas and the image still looked good. The link is here - The watermark is obviously NOT on any ordered print or canvas, framed print etc... For the rest of April there is a discount available if you enter the following code YCKBCU - the discount only comes off the photographer's mark up but should at least cover your shipping costs. Let me know directly of any issues

ecky1965 : I was scared just sitting here.

Anqry : Possibly the most British response to nearly getting decapitated by a plane ever.

Iain Chapman : Ray was the best display pilot ever, and I've seen a few. RIP Ray, and Mark too.

tokr72 : That's insane. Completely, totally insane. How cool.

CaseyKaiJones : Now that's what I'd call "Achtung Spitfire!"

Veritas Vincit : Question;It'd be easy to fly the machine into the ground at this height or at least strike the prop. The elevator authority on the Spitfire is said to be sensitive despite Hanna's undeniable skill. So, is this machine flying in ground effect in this clip? In other words, is a cushion of air under the wings helping Hanna keep it from bumping the ground at this low height? My only frame of reference is flying general aviation types, not warbirds at these speeds, and ground effect is noticeable when landing or keeping the nose low just after rotating to allow airspeed to build.

David Selby : Ray Hanna was a legend at air displays. I watched him fly the Spitfire at RAF Alconbury air show many years ago. I had never seen a Spitfire flown the way he flew it that day, or since. He really showed what an awesome machine it must have been, in the hands of those brave young men during WW2. Thanks for the post, brilliant.

Eric Peters : That never gets old.

Brianboru88 : Ray Hanna was probably the greatest Sptifire pilot of the post-war era, watching him fly Spitfires, was pure poetry & theatre.

FlyingMachinesTV : Just like to add that the Cameraman for this clip was Steve Connor :)

Chaz Gisby : Prevoliged to be on station flight at 1 Squadron open day at RAF Wittering when Ray flew thw Spitfire. He was a true master of this winderful aircraft.

Geoff Peterson : Alain de Cadenet changed his grundies soon after!

Jurie Gryffenberg : That was almost a perfect 'crew' cut.

Reaper4367 : Beyond impressive! Magnificent! Awesome stuff, thank you for sharing :)

SmallBlock351Cleveland : That was as close to the ground as you can possibly get in a plane. His prop was less that 24" from the ground. That is either blind luck, or he knows his plane very very well!