The next job was to find a location to take the photos. Ian wanted dramatic coastlines and green fields, the marketing team wanted blue skies and puffy clouds. He also needed to keep a cautious eye on the fuel bill! The west coast of Wales, near Anglesey, seemed right. It was mostly free of other air traffic, especially at the weekend, and provided the right backdrop for the photos. Then it was time to work out how to get an empty A350 (we only owned one at the time) overhead of Anglesey, on a day when the Strikemasters were available. There was so much that could derail the plan but a ferry flight from Gatwick to Heathrow on a Saturday morning looked promising if they could take the scenic route. And the Strikemasters, indeed, were available.
In the weeks before the flight, the five pilots had four briefings where they carefully planned how they were going to fly. The briefings covered the manoeuvres needed to get the shots, how they would communicate and most importantly, the procedures they’d use if anything went wrong or they lost sight of each other. The final briefings took place on the morning of the flight when it became obvious that the weather, the most unpredictable part of the plan and the last piece of the jigsaw, was going to play ball. In fact, it was perfect. The stars were aligning.