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Wings (1977/78) – S02E09 – “Guardian Angel” – Tim Woodward, Nicholas Jones, Michael Cochrane, David Troughton


This Episode

Triggers arranges for Alan to share Charles Gaylion’s quarters, hoping that the more experienced officer will help him cope with the insubordination he still experiences, following his promotion. Both are initially unhappy with the move, and quarrel when Alan discovers that Lorna has written to Charles. The “guardian angel” parachute remains unused by the RFC because of its excessive weight and awkwardness. An American engineer, Leroy Schultz, has invented an alternative parachute which can be opened manually but can only be used once. “Special Flight” are asked by the general to see Schultz and give their views; Alan is broadly in favour of anything that could save pilots’ lives, but Triggers fears it will encourage the pilot to jump and sees it as an excuse for cowardice. Schultz, previously the proprietor of a “flying circus”, stands to make a fortune should the RFC take the parachute, and is regarded with suspicion, particularly after he offers Alan a cut of the profits in return for his support. Alan is prepared to volunteer for a demonstration jump, but Triggers will not allow any of his men to make the jump. After Schultz confesses to Alan that he has not used the parachute himself since a fatal accident involving a member of the public, Alan persuades him to do the jump. Just before take-off, an inquisitive airman, left alone in Triggers’ office, plays with the parachute and clumsily attempts to conceal what he has done. When Schultz realises the chute has been tampered with and he has no time to re-pack it, he agrees to jump, but loses his nerve when Alan takes him up in the plane. The idea of the parachute is abandoned, but Charles admires Alan’s courage.



Wings is a drama series about the Royal Flying Corps that ran on BBC television from 1977 to 1978. It stars Tim Woodward as Alan Farmer, a young blacksmith turned fighter pilot in World War I.

Nicholas Jones played his teacher and mentor, Captain Triggers, and Michael Cochrane played his upper-class friend, Charles Gaylion, who began a relationship with Farmer’s girlfriend while Farmer was believed dead, shot down over France.

The series reveals that the British pilots are struggling with aeroplanes which are both unreliable and inferior to the German machines, and with an Establishment that classes voicing an opinion to that effect as being tantamount to cowardice. The airmen must also face the resentment of British soldiers who see them having an “easy” life. The rigidity of the British class structure is highlighted when Farmer becomes an officer in the second series – he faces resentment both from some officers because of his class and NCOs because of his new rank. The series takes great care with historical accuracy, covering the early days of the parachute, the fitting of weaponry to British biplanes (lacking the Germans’ interruptor gear, they had to be fired at an angle rather than through the propellers) and the horrors of trench warfare. Wings depicts a Britain that is, in some areas, struggling to adapt in the face of change, at a period that was a turning point for many people’s way of life MORE AT LINK

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