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Wings (1977/78) – #16 – S02E04 – “Transfer” – Tim Woodward, Nicholas Jones, Michael Cochrane, David Troughton


This Episode

When Charles Gaylion crashes a BE2 on takeoff, he fears losing his nerve. He attempts to take another plane up at once but there is an accident and one of the mechanics loses both of his hands. Despite the fact that a faulty ignition switch is discovered, Gaylion blames himself and begins to behave increasingly erratically. Bravington attempts to cover up for him but the two end up fighting in the mess. In the meantime, Triggers, having recognised the signs of stress in his most experienced pilot, is attempting to get him temporarily posted back to Britain as a flying instructor. The transfer comes through on Charles’s birthday, and his fellow officers arrange an impromptu party; on hearing the news, Charles bursts into tears of relief. Returning to his family home in London, he finds that his sister Kate has become an ambulance driver and his parents are expecting a government minister to dinner. His father, now promoted to major-general, assumes that Charles has taken his new posting unwillingly and would prefer to be at the Front. Although slightly drunk, Charles gives the minister his informed opinions on the shortcomings of the BE2 over dinner, and his father is surprised to find that his forthright speech has made a favourable impression on their guest. However, after the minister has left, an argument breaks out and a hysterical Charles admits the reason for his transfer, incurring his father’s displeasure. Only Kate appears to feel some sympathy for his predicament.



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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