Antiques series. Paul Martin presents from the Fleet Air Arm Museum situated on HMS Heron, the naval aviation base in Yeovilton, Somerset.
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Today, for the first time ever, "Flog It!" comes from a working military base.
This is HMS Heron in Somerset,
Britain's largest naval aviation base.
And later on in the programme, I'll be going up in that.
Welcome to "Flog It!"
Our valuations today come from inside the Fleet Air Arm Museum,
which is on the base here at HMS Heron,
and it holds Europe's largest collection of aeroplanes
and helicopters, designed specifically to launch from ships.
Today, this naval air base is the busiest in the country,
with aircraft being dispatched all over the globe on military,
anti-terrorism and even anti-piracy missions.
Well, let's hope today's antiques are all above board and shipshape,
we don't want the anti-piracy
squadron descending on us.
And as well as hundreds of members of the public here today,
we have our own "Flog It!" antique experts,
guardians of high standards and excellence.
The very respectable Charlie Ross.
-Are they, really? Well, goodbye(!)
And the impeccable Thomas Plant.
-Do you know how to use it?
I was looking like I do.
Well, what a fabulous queue we have here today.
People have come from all over the area,
from the flats of the Somerset Levels,
from the highs of the Quantock Hills
and the banks of the River Parrett, all carrying antiques
and collectibles, hoping they are one of the lucky ones to get
chosen to go through to the auction later on.
Time to get this queue inside,
so our experts both on and off screen
can get a proper look at the wonderfully diverse items arriving here today.
And for those of you who know your Japanese Meiji
from your Chinese Qing,
which one of these three Oriental items makes thousands at auction?
Will it be this menacing looking samurai sword?
Or the Chinese ivory aide-memoire?
Or the Cantonese vase decorated with famille rose?
Surrounded by incredible aircraft, there's
no shortage of things to look at here at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
But right now, it's time to focus our attentions on our first item of the day.
Let's go straight to Charlie Ross,
who's installed himself beneath the beautiful wings of Concorde.
-Frances, will you dance?
-I'd love to. And I am such a fan of yours,
I decided to come and bring this just on the chance of meeting you.
-Well, here I am.
-Very nice, too.
-I must say, you made my day.
-I'm going to go home now.
When I said, "Would you dance?"
I wondered whether that might be a little dance card.
-That's exactly what I thought it was as well.
-But it is quite large
if you think of the sort of size of handbags for fancy ladies that
I think that would be possibly a little large.
-She'd have a lot of dances, wouldn't she?
-She'd have a lot of dances.
There's a lot of pages.
-We could dance all night, couldn't we?
-That's right, yes.
It might be a notepad or an aide-memoire,
if you would like to put it into fancy French.
Of course. It's posh then.
It's beautifully, beautifully carved.
-Do you know where it was made?
-No, but is it ivory?
-It is ivory, yes.
Because I've had it in a drawer and I kept on taking it out
and I kept thinking, "Is it or isn't it?"
Because it is so nicely decorated, I thought it can't be plastic.
No, it isn't plastic.
-It is Chinese. It is actually Cantonese.
It is from Canton.
Now, what we need to say about ivory, it is
illegal to sell any ivory that is post-1947.
I was a bit worried about it.
That's why it stayed in the drawer for a while.
You don't need to worry, this is well pre-1947.
I would think this is certainly 1910, 1920.
It might even be a little bit earlier.
-You have got all the courtiers here,
carved in superb depth.
-It's so small, isn't it?
See the thickness of ivory there, and if you hold it up to the light,
you can see the scene perfectly well.
-Can you see that?
-Isn't that extraordinary?
-It is, fabulous.
There's no chips, no damage. There is a little bit of discolouration.
And you have got a wonderful little clasp here, which I think is silver.
And that will be commensurate with the sort of quality of the item.
-Have we got anything written in it?
I was waiting for you to say whether you were going to do a waltz
or a foxtrot or...
I'm a little bit worried here, there is something written here.
Oh, my goodness.
-Can you see that?
-What does it say?
You better not read it out, it might be naughty.
It says, "Punishment list."
-It can't be!
-It does. Doesn't that say punishment list?
-Well, it doesn't say shopping list, does it?
-No. It doesn't say tango.
-No, it doesn't. Value?
-I think that will make between £100 and £200.
Also, it is nice and small.
-It is small.
-If you are collecting something...
-That's absolutely right.
I wouldn't like to sell it without a reserve,
-just in case there aren't the right people there.
And I would like to put a reserve of 100,
with a little bit of auctioneer's discretion.
-Are you happy with that?
-Yes, because I've met you through it.
-So that's perfect.
-You keep saying all the right things.
I don't think Charlie could have started on a higher note.
And there is no chance of coming down to earth with our next seller.
So, Chris, any connection with this place here?
I've actually flown on a Concorde journey
-from Bahrain to London.
-Have you now?
-Yes, when I was working in the Middle East.
-Were you in the oil industry?
No, no. I was out working for an Arab company
-in the furnishing business.
-And how quick was it?
-3.5 hours from memory.
Well, we're digressing from the pot. What do you know about it?
Virtually nothing. It belonged to my father.
And it has been here in the family for at least 45, 50 years.
That's all I know.
-We use it for paintbrushes and that sort of thing.
-It is Chinese.
-It is Canton.
-What we call the Chinese Canton ware.
With this famille rose palette to it.
Famille rose are the pinks we pick out against the green and the gilt.
You have some ladies here chatting to somebody sitting within
And on the other side, exotic birds and butterflies,
which are delightful. And they sort of unite the piece throughout.
Chinese works of art,
Chinese ceramics are immensely popular at the moment, the reason
being is the Chinese nationals are buying back their heritage.
However, I'm going to slightly disappoint you.
This was made for our market in Canton in the middle
-of the 19th century.
-Therefore, they are not so keen on buying it back.
But it is still immensely decorative.
Are you happy to let it go?
Well, we don't really use it as such, so, yes.
So, if I were to say we would put it in at £100, 100-150,
-fixed reserve of 100?
-Yes, that's all right.
-Is that OK?
Yeah, that's fine.
I think one should do that because it is so decorative.
-And the really nice thing about it...
-Oh, good. Yes.
Well, let's hope Thomas' valuation rings true in the auction house.
But right now it is time to swoop down there, to catch up with
Charlie Ross and see what else he has spotted.
-Ailsa, how romantic is this?!
-Lovely, isn't it?
Sitting around a little table with you,
with a heart-shaped casket between us.
-Very nice, isn't it?
-Where did it come from?
Well, it belonged to my late aunt.
-They were living in Yorkshire at the time.
And one of the big houses up there, I don't know which one,
was having a sale, and the proceeds were going towards the troops.
Oh, really? When was the sale, 1938, '39?
Somewhere around there, yes. And she bought it there.
-And that is really all I know about it.
-And you inherited it from her?
I inherited it from her about three or four years ago.
I think it is a dressing table casket.
It is for putting rings in or hair tidies, things like that.
-You know what it is made of, do you?
-It is indeed silver.
-And where was it made, do you know that?
-I don't, no.
-This is Dutch.
This is a piece of Dutch silver that was then imported into England.
Oh, I see.
And you can tell that from the hallmark here, which is
an English hallmark.
And provided it had the sufficient standard or grade, it could
then receive the English assay mark.
-This has been assayed for 1892.
-Oh, I didn't realise it was that old.
So, it is truly Victorian.
And the embossed decoration here is in tremendous condition.
Yes, it's the little figures on it that are wonderful, aren't they?
Little cherubs in the garden here with figures
and some wonderful, wonderful decoration
all the way around.
-Open it up and it has got a slightly gilded interior.
That is another sign of quality.
I suspect as a trinket holder,
probably it would have had a velvet lining inside it.
-Which is no longer there.
It is not 100% certain,
but I would expect that if you were putting things like rings
in a box like that, you wouldn't want them to rub against...
I can't remember her ever having anything velvet in it.
It was always like that.
You don't want to put it back in the cupboard.
I don't really, no.
If I said a figure of 50 quid,
-you'd probably be disappointed, would you?
I think it is worth between £100 and £200.
-Happy with that?
We will put a fixed reserve of 100, obviously,
-so it can't be sold for any less.
And hope that the auctioneer works it up to the top end.
It's over to local West Country boy, Thomas Plant,
who is sat beneath the first British-built Concorde.
-So, it's Chris?
-It is, yes.
-And you're fellow Bristolians.
We're like the Three Musketeers from Bristol.
So, why have you come to Yeovil from Bristol?
Because we thought it was the ideal place to come
with these particular items.
-We're looking at these aeroplane timepieces.
Tell me, how did you come by them?
My father, during all his career,
worked at Filton in the aircraft industry,
mainly on the engine side, but, during the war,
he was able to purchase these from the company,
because when the aeroplanes were brought in, they were refurbished,
bits and pieces were taken out.
But your father used them as a clock beside his bed,
-because they lit up in the night.
-The luminous hands.
Yes. So, he used it as his bedside clock.
What was your father's involvement within Filton?
-Was he a repairer, an engineer?
-He was a toolmaker.
Did you follow him into the business?
I worked there during all my career.
-Not within Filton, the last ten years within Filton.
So you never saw this being built in Filton? The wings were built there.
I was responsible for building wings on the A400M military aircraft.
But your father, he was a protected occupation.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
How did he feel about that, did he ever talk about that?
He didn't talk a lot about it,
-because he worked on a lot of secret stuff.
-During the war.
So, these could have come off a secret plane?
I wouldn't think so!
We could romanticise!
One is slightly earlier than the other,
-the bigger one is earlier.
-It will be earlier.
The design is very similar with the luminous hands,
this one is made by the Goldsmiths & Silversmiths company.
-It's made by the same company.
-Yes, they both have AM
-on the back, don't they?
-And the George VI crown.
-So, the King's crown on there.
So, they're all fully marked up and the provenance
is second to none, coming straight from your father.
Did they keep good time?
They used to and one of them does still work.
-I don't think they're broken...
-They're still ticking.
They haven't been used for such a long time.
-He did wind them up, just now.
Are you going to be sad to let these go?
Erm, not really, no. They're no sentimental value.
Erm, as I said, I thought it was a very interesting place to bring it.
We have two daughters with no interest in it, whatsoever.
I think, if we put these in together
as two aircraft war issue timepieces,
I would suggest an estimate of 120 to 180 on them.
-Is that all right?
-Yeah, that's fine.
Put a discretionary reserve on it at 120.
-So we'll see you at the auction?
Before we head off to auction,
there is something I would like to show you.
This is Cobham Hall, the museum's reserve store,
where all the new arrivals are brought.
And as you can see, there's quite a lot of them.
They're here with numerous miscellaneous aircraft parts,
items that currently aren't in exhibition.
But everything you see here is meticulously itemised and logged.
What interests me are the incredible human stories
that lie behind these aircraft,
and how a new way of working is helping to rediscover them.
Now, this Harrier Jump Jet may not look like history,
but in the ever-changing world of military aviation,
it already is - it was decommissioned in 2010.
Now, if you look inside that cockpit, I've been told
there's lots of grains of sand from the pilot's boot.
And it's these little visual marks that evoke the human stories
that are involved in and around these aircraft that's so important.
Looking at it today, I really hope it will be preserved
as it is now for future generations to see.
It's so evocative looking at an item that exudes its history.
I've arranged to meet up with Dave Morris,
Curator of Aircraft here at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
He is globally pioneering a whole new way of restoring aircraft.
What IS your approach to, let's say, conservation, or restoration?
That's a really interesting one,
because we're trying to look carefully at what those words mean -
-conservation, restoration, preservation...
If you're lucky enough to be given Constable's Hay Wain
or Botticelli's Venus or a Chippendale table...
-You leave it well alone.
-You wouldn't necessarily
-just race for the paint pot, I hope.
But a lot of 20th-century mechanical objects have suffered in that way.
Let's take the Harrier Jump Jet - we've ended up here.
That looks to me like it's in pretty much original condition
-and you haven't touched that yet.
-It is exactly why
we selected that, when it became available.
It's straight from, erm,
its last theatre of war operation in Afghanistan,
and exactly how we would want to now look at keeping an object -
-straight from use.
-Is this a new way of thinking,
or has this policy been in place for quite a few years?
The more detailed work that we're getting into, where we're actually
carefully looking at our objects and in some instances
un-painting them - quite literally taking paint layers back,
millimetre by millimetre,
to expose original finishes and history from beneath -
that's quite new, and it's something
we've been involved with now since the year 2000.
What was the first plane you worked on in that way?
The first project that we took in that direction
was the World War II Chance Vought Corsair fighter,
which again has been in the collection for many years,
had obviously been repainted during the 1960s,
but the more we investigated it, the more we started to believe
that beneath that 1960s paint,
it looked like it had a lot, if not all,
of its original 1944 paintwork intact.
And that's what you're looking for, that real human DNA,
the people that actually built that in the first place and gave it
-its FIRST paint job...
-You can paint it as many times as you like,
but it's only original once.
Talking to Dave and stepping into his world
makes me think of a forensic scientist.
And in many ways, that's exactly what he is.
I know in a moment you're going to show me
something you're currently working on. But first, tell me about this,
because this is early naval aviation history, isn't it -
the Seaplane Lighter...?
Absolutely - this dates back to World War I.
It is a purpose-built vessel for carrying a sea plane.
So, basically, it's an iron-hulled barge, isn't it,
that you put a seaplane on and towed?
It is, but more significant than that,
it was the first time that the Admiralty had actually
ordered from a company a vessel to carry an aeroplane at sea,
-ie. an aircraft carrier.
-So, you have to consider this to be...
..the start point of where the modern aircraft carrier begins.
Unbelievable! How many of these have survived?
We have the only one known to exist, as a complete Seaplane Lighter.
-Where did you find it?
somebody who was a ships historian and enthusiast in that part
of the River Thames, where it was operating as a flat-top Thames barge,
identified it, recognised it, they wrote us a letter and said,
"We think we've seen a World War I Seaplane Lighter
"still being used on the Thames."
And that was recently?
1996 was when they pointed it out.
-So it was still afloat in 1996?
-Still being used, still afloat.
And we were lucky to get it released from the company
and bring it into storage here.
If we hadn't been tipped off and hadn't acted on it,
-it would have literally been cut up for scrap.
How lucky, how lucky! And here we are standing on it.
The Seaplane Lighter has been painstakingly restored
over the past 17 years,
to reveal as much of its original identity as possible.
The aeroplane that Dave is currently restoring
is the only remaining one of its kind.
And during World War II, it might have changed history for ever.
The French commissioned a fleet of the American-made
Grumman Martlets, but with the Nazi occupation of Paris,
there was a very real threat
that the aeroplanes would end up in German hands.
Miraculously, word got out in time,
and the contract was transferred to the British.
Today, Dave is working in a way that will reveal
as much of the aeroplane's story as possible.
You've brought me to this section of wing -
what are you going to show me?
Here is a good example of the type of thing we're discovering.
People often say, "So, what is the point, what are you finding,
"why do you do this?"
And again, it's tracking back through the object's history.
You'll see lots of different layers and different colours here,
where we now have understood through research which colour
relates to what date of the aircraft.
The Americans used this aeroplane extensively during World War II.
And colour footage does exist of their fleets.
Sadly, nothing has been found of the British using the Grumman Martlet,
making Dave's work even more important.
And then things like this green scrape here,
-there's quite a definite...
-It goes right along, doesn't it?
There's quite a lot of speed attached to that scrape there.
And it's dark green. We've had that chemically analysed,
and it matches identically the green on the upper surface of the wing.
So what caused that, then, two wings colliding?
It can only be that it's run across the wing tip
of another Grumman Martlet -
one of the other aircraft on the squadron.
A landing accident or a taxiing accident, maybe on a carrier
or an airfield - we don't know.
But now we can start tracking that further,
because we know that the lighter colour dates from April 1941 -
and of course, the green stripe is below that,
-so it has to predate April '41.
That puts it on one of two squadrons, so we can now start looking
at those squadron records, and seeing if we can fine-tune
-Good detective work!
That's exciting, isn't it?
We're beginning literally to get under the skin of the object.
Scrape some off - I see you've got a little scalpel in your hand.
-A tiny blade...
-You find an edge that starts to go...
So you're taking the dark blue off now...
Yeah, we're getting rid of the dark blue,
and the silver coat, which is immediately beneath the dark blue...
I was going to have a go, to say I've done something, but I don't
-want to take off the cream, so...
-Oh, look, there's a bit, look.
-Find an edge, and see how you...
-Shall I just keep scraping?
-Just keep going with the blue.
Just keep going with the blue. That's fine.
'You have to admire Dave's commitment,
'given that he's already spent seven years working on this aircraft,
'and it's not finished yet.
'But when it IS done, this aeroplane
'really will have been brought back to life.'
I'm part of a generation who has known men who flew planes like this,
risking their lives during World War II. And sadly,
as that generation leaves us, it's more important then ever now
to remember their history, and their contribution,
so the next generation can understand - and learn.
Well, time certainly flies when you're having fun.
We are ready to go over to the auction room for the first time today.
Here is a quick recap of what we are taking with us.
Frances's delicately carved aide-memoire
should sing out to someone with an eye for detail.
Will Chris's brush pot with its famille rose decoration
appeal to an artistic palate?
Time for a new home
for Chris and Linda's World War II aircraft clocks.
And will the romantics out there
battle it out for Ailsa's heart-shaped trinket box?
We've travelled across the Somerset Levels to Bridgwater.
Today, we have set up camp in Tamlyns.
The room is absolutely packed. There is a wonderful atmosphere here.
Let's get on with the show, let's catch up
with our owners as we hand proceedings to Claire Rawle.
And don't forget, there is commission to pay
on anything you sell at auction,
and, here, it is 15% plus VAT.
And first up, it's the aide-memoire.
-Frances, good luck.
-Thank you very much.
Every single penny is going towards a family reunion in,
guess where, not Skegness.
No. Las Vegas.
-My children are both going to have big birthdays.
So, the boys come in from Australia
and we are all going out from England.
How lovely! Oh, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!
They want to go on trips on helicopters
and I don't know what, and Granny has always got to pay, hasn't she?
Yeah, so we need some money with our little Chinese carved
They say small is beautiful, I think this is stunning. Good luck.
Thank you very much.
Lot 62. I have to start this one away at £75. At 75.
Do I see 80 anywhere?
-It's a good start.
-90. Five. 100, the bid is in the room now.
-It's gone, Frances.
-Do I see 110 anywhere? At £100, bid is in the room. 110.
-140. 150. 160.
-At 160, you all done then?
-I feel a bit of roulette coming on.
It's selling, then, at 160...
-Hammer's gone down.
-That got quite exciting.
-That was very good, wasn't it?
One helicopter ride, I think.
Well, that is the first of our Oriental pieces sold,
and here's another one.
The Chinese Cantonese brush pot is going under the hammer.
19th-century, made for the English market
and we're looking for around £100 to £150.
Why do you want to sell this?
It has been in the back of the cupboard for years and years,
-so we are thinning out. It might as well go now.
Well, good luck. It is going under the hammer right now.
A nice little Cantonese one. It is a nice start away at £75. At 75.
Do I see 80 anywhere? Bid is at 75. 80. Five. 90. Five. 100.
-In the room at £100.
At 100. Now 110 anywhere? At £100, then.
The bid is in the room. You all done?
It is going to sell for... Oh, 110 on the internet.
120 in the room.
At 120. At 120. Now 130 out there.
At £120, the bid is in the room then still.
130. 140 in the room.
At £140. At 140. Now 150.
At £140. Now 150.
Claire is very good at talking to the internet,
somebody that is not really there in person.
-I'm pleased with that.
-That is as good as you are going to get for that vase.
Time's up for those World War II aeroplane clocks.
Chris and Linda, it's great to see you.
-Now, I know you worked at Filton.
-So you've got a passion for aircraft.
-And it was wonderful to see aircraft memorabilia
coming into our valuation day.
-We were all excited about that, weren't we?
We don't know where these dials are from - it could be from...
It could be from a Hurricane, or a Spitfire, we don't know.
Hopefully there's somebody out there that does, and they're here
right now to buy it. It's going under the hammer, this is it.
152, the World War II period - and they ARE period -
nice aircraft timepieces,
and these I'm going to start away at £85.
At 85. Do I see 90 anywhere? Bid's with me at 85.
At £85. Now 90.
At 90. 95. 100.
110. 120 in the room.
At 120. Got a room bid at 120. So, 130 out there?
-130 I have. 140 in the room.
At £140. 150. 160.
At 160. One seven... 170.
180. At 180. At £180...
£200. At £200.
220 out there? At £200 - you all done then?
They're going to sell at £200...
-Wonderful. Just goes to show -
history...to do with aviation...
-Your dad would be pleased as well, wouldn't he? CHRIS:
-He would be.
I love the fact that Chris's dad used these old clocks
on each side of his bed.
I hope today's buyer finds an equally original place
for these wonderful World War II items.
Going under the hammer right now, a big heart. Yes, a large heart.
Not our Ailsa's heart, but it is that wonderful silver trinket box.
-And it is a whopper, isn't it?
-I do like this.
-I know it caught Charlie's eye.
-It's nice quality.
Fingers crossed we will get the top end of the estimate.
-Happy with that?
-OK, let's go for it.
And this one I have to start straight in at £120.
-130. 140. 150. 160. 170. 180.
-190. 200. 220.
280. 300. 320.
-I don't understand.
-There's a bid on the book.
-Now I've got 450 here.
At £450. At 450.
Claire was looking at a bid on the book, working the bids.
-That was a lot of heart there. £450!
-How about that?!
-Wonderful. Thank you.
-Back to the drawing board.
It's nice when it goes like that, isn't it?
One bemused expert and one delighted seller.
It's the unpredictability of the auction room that makes it
such an exciting place to be in.
There you are, that is the end of the first visit
to the saleroom today.
We are coming back here later on in the programme,
so don't go away because there could be one or two surprises.
Now, while I was in Yeovilton, I found out about the history
of 815 Naval Air Squadron
and what it takes to be a pilot with them today.
815 Squadron has been operating out of HMS Heron for over 70 years now.
Today, they are the largest helicopter squadron in Europe.
Before I meet them, here is a quick bit about their history.
815 were formed in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War.
The first aircraft the squadron flew was the Swordfish.
And their first major mission was to provide
support during the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940.
The Second World War had propelled huge changes in aviation design,
and by 1958, 815 were a helicopter squadron
using sonar to spot submarines.
By 1981, the Somerset-made Lynx helicopter
was at the forefront of the squadron.
And today, some 30 years later,
it's still the Lynx helicopter that the squadron flies.
Nowadays, missions include anti-terrorism deployments
and even battling pirates in the Indian Ocean.
It takes four years to train to be an 815 pilot today.
And physical fitness is paramount
when you are carrying 15 kilos of kit on your person.
And here's a man who knows all about it - Lieutenant Adam Rudkin.
What does it take to be an 815 pilot today?
Well, it takes about four years of training
and a lot of commitment and hard work to get to this
point to be at a front-line squadron, such as 815.
Just tell me about the squadron. You know, it has got a great name,
hasn't it? 815, it is renowned worldwide.
What does it feel like to be part of that?
Oh, I feel very lucky and honoured.
You know, 815 is the home of front-line Lynx aviation.
And it is a great squadron, it's unique.
You never know what you're going to do from day to day.
Are you confident now to sort of jump in most aircraft
-and helicopters and fly them?
-Um... Just this aircraft.
You know, I mean, they are all the same basically,
but have a lot of different nuances and techniques, yeah.
I'll stick with the Lynx for now.
Adam's confidence flying the Lynx comes from his extensive training.
And knowing exactly what to do in an emergency.
This next exercise is designed to prepare pilots
for a worst-case scenario -
crashing at sea.
Three guys from 815 Squadron just about to do the dunking,
and I know you have done this before.
You have to do it virtually once every two years?
Yeah, maximum of every two years,
so we end up doing it quite regularly, unfortunately.
Obviously you get better with age doing this, don't you?
You would hope, but generally you get more scared as you get older.
Is it really quite frightening?
Well, yeah, you're getting upside down in the dark.
You're trapped in cos you've got your seatbelt holding you.
And all this kit, what you're wearing now.
We've got life jackets and all our survival suits,
and we're trapped into the aircraft with a five-point harness,
so loads of different things catch on.
It goes upside down, all the oxygen goes out, you start panicking.
So it is, you know, not a very pleasant experience,
but really useful as well.
Everyone who has had a real incident, they always come back
and say this training is exceptionally useful.
Well, look, guys, good luck.
I'm pleased I'm staying here and watching.
-You can join us if you like.
Lieutenant BJ Smith, Head of Survival Equipment,
talked me through the exercise.
They will all brace themselves in there.
They will have one hand on their lap strap,
one hand on the window to release it.
And as the module comes down, it will submerge
and they will make their exit once the movement has stopped.
The aircrew who have ditched have told us of their experiences,
where they can't remember
a thing from the moment of impact to the moment they come back
up to the surface cos that habitual reaction,
the muscle memory, has kicked in and they've just went through all
the training that has been instilled in them.
-'Right - this is it.'
-Brace, brace, brace!
-Here we go.
This is where it must get frightening for them inside.
I really wouldn't like to do that.
That's really creating disorientation for
the guys in there.
That's incredible. That's absolutely incredible.
Hopefully experiencing that level of anxiety
-in these controlled conditions brings their confidence up.
If that happens in reality, they know what to expect.
Like I say, you made that look easy.
You were out just like that every single time.
There is a definite incentive when you are stuck underwater - you want
to get out as quick as possible cos it is not very pleasant at times.
Well, look, well done, and thanks for, you know, being our guinea pigs today.
Cos I certainly wouldn't have got in there.
Well, that really was quite sobering,
watching those guys do that sort of training.
It really drums home the risk they undertake in their role.
And before an 815 pilot can go up in a Lynx, they need to rack
up 62 hours of flying in a helicopter simulator.
This is just a part of their overall flight training, but it's essential.
And there is one man who has been training
wannabe 815 pilots for 20 years -
Lieutenant Commander John Hartley.
And he has offered to give me a lesson.
-So you are pretty much ready to go.
Moving the stick forward, the aircraft goes forward?
If you move the stick forward, the aircraft will go faster
and it will also sort of dive down and go forward.
Pull it back, you will slow down and you will climb.
-Let's give it a go. Come on, I'm really excited.
-OK, here we go.
-So ease back on the stick gently, nice and gently.
Wow, that is very sensitive.
If you look to your left, at 11 o'clock, down low,
-you will see a runway.
-So if you look over there, now that's Yeovilton.
-That is where we are.
-OK. Do you want me to land?
We want to attempt to land there.
If you come between... Straight, in a line down the runway.
Imagine you are in an aeroplane and you are going to go
and do a regular landing.
Well, I've never done a regular landing in an aircraft.
I would raise my left hand just a little inch
because we're going to fall short, I think.
-That's looking very good.
Lower your left hand.
Raise your left hand a little bit.
A little bit more. Raise your left hand. Steady the impact.
Oh, no! No!
OK, raise the lever a bit to about 30 or 40.
Now we are looking really good for a landing on that grass.
Raise this hand. Just an inch. Gently, gently. Gently.
Squeeze left pedal.
Beautiful. And let it land. Oh, I think we are down.
-We are on the grass.
-How did we land?
We're in trouble with the Commodore, but we're down.
I've got to say, that was absolutely brilliant.
I've never done anything like that before in my life.
A big thank you to John there for talking me through
and getting me through my first simulated flight.
Well, that has certainly given me a taste for flying,
and now it's time for the real thing.
# Revvin' up your engine Listen to her howlin' roar
# Metal under tension Beggin' you to touch and go. #
Don't worry, I won't be flying,
I will be in the safe hands of Adam Rudkin, who I met earlier.
# Right into the danger zone. #
Today, we're flying over the base in a Lynx helicopter.
The Lynx holds the world record as the fastest helicopter.
Given its age, I think that is quite remarkable, it really is.
Today, I am flying with pilot Adam and observer Laura, whose job
it is to navigate and, in a conflict situation, release the arms.
Such a smooth flight today, perfect conditions.
And the view is stunning.
I must say, Adam has got a great job here, our pilot.
Today has certainly given me a snapshot of what is involved
in becoming a pilot in one
of Europe's largest helicopter squadrons.
And it is as challenging today as it was during 815's early days.
And with the old Lynx finally nearing the end of its life,
here at Yeovilton, the squadron will soon be entering a new era -
the dawn of the Wildcat.
But that's another story.
We're back down on the ground at this extraordinary location
with its fascinating history.
With many men from the base currently on active service
in Afghanistan, let's not forget the bravery of those left behind.
Singing for us today, we have the Yeovilton Military Wives Choir.
# Wherever you are
# My love will keep you safe
# My heart will build a bridge
# Of light across both time and space
# Wherever you are
# Our hearts still beat as one
# I hold you in my dreams each night
# Until your task is done
# Light after darkness
# My wondrous star
# Our hopes and dreams My heart and yours
# Forever shining far
# Light up the darkness
# My prince of peace
# May the stars shine all around you
# May your courage
# Never cease
# Aaaah... #
Fabulous. Wasn't that great?
-I love this swagger stick.
-I really like swagger sticks.
-In a former life,
I should have been sort of in the British Army, I think.
I can see you marching up and down with that under your arm!
Why have you brought it in?
I've been itching to find out something about it.
My husband bought it, I think, in an auction sale.
It's one of those things that sort of appeared.
My husband died 20 years ago.
And because that's not my history, or even his history, it has no...
-It's not a family thing.
-Something he's purchased.
Well, it's English cos we've got British hallmarks here.
This dates from 1822. And 57 on there within a wreath.
-What does the 57 mean?
-So an infantry regiment.
And the Albuhera, which I've looked up,
and it's from the Peninsular War, 1811.
Got a bit of age to it.
And this is obviously a foot soldier,
one of the soldiers who were hugely outnumbered in this battle,
-had this made post the battle...
-As a sort of memento.
And regiments do. They have these battles on their coats of arms.
This is... Is this a bamboo of some description? Very bendy.
Little silver ferrule on the end. I think it's delightful.
Have you got any idea of value?
No, not really. Um... No, I haven't.
-It's probably worth, I would say, at least £50-80.
-Would you be interested in selling it?
-Yes, I think so.
Because it's not any good to me. Not really.
-Somebody else will love this.
-Somebody else will collect this
and it will end up with somebody who collects Peninsular War memorabilia.
-In its good company.
-It would be amongst friends.
With regards to a reserve, I would suggest £50 with discretion.
-I was going to say that.
Singing from the same hymn sheet. That's wonderful.
While Thomas marches into the saleroom with that one,
here's a speedy little number that's just up Charlie's street.
-I recognise this! This is a Model T Ford.
-It is, indeed.
What's the history of it, as far as you're concerned?
-I was given it when I was seven years old.
By a family friend who used to come down and see us once a year from Manchester and it
kind of started me off from there and ended up with my collection.
I ended up with almost 200 different Dinky and Matchbox toys.
-Really? Have you still got them?
-Unfortunately not. They've all gone now.
-Why have you got rid of them?
-My children have grown up and it was something they weren't interested in.
No, and girls being girls, they'd rather spend the money and have something.
-There's daughters for you!
-This one's always been my prized treasure.
I'm feeling guilty, sitting here. It comes from a TV series.
Yes, so I understand.
The Secret Service TV series with Gerry Anderson.
-I don't remember that one.
-Well, 1970s. So you wouldn't, would you?
I would, of course! The great thing is it has its box.
Was that true of all your collection?
Pretty much most of them, yeah. I was always told to keep the box.
-Clever man. The boxes themselves are worth money now.
And the paintwork's good. You haven't driven it around much.
No, it's never come out of that little card there.
-Has it never come out of the card? Well, I'm not going to do that now!
-It's stayed in there all this time.
One thing that intrigues me, did it ever have a steering wheel?
-It never had a steering wheel when I had it.
-Then I suspect it didn't have one.
-I'm not sure if it ever came with one.
-There doesn't seem to be a mark inside where the steering wheel
-might have been.
-And there aren't any marks on his hands where there might have been.
I'm not sufficiently expert enough in Dinky Toys to know whether this model had a steering wheel.
I rather suspect it didn't.
-Why do you want to sell it?
Both my girls are off on their first school trips this year,
which costs an arm and a leg anyway, and they want spending money.
-So it's like raid dad and...
-What do you think it's worth?
I've always thought it would be around £30-40.
-I think it's worth more than that.
30-40 is a conservative estimate.
I'd like to see an estimate of 50-80 on it, really.
You reckon it's worth 30-40. I think it's worth 50-80.
So we'll put an estimate of 50-80, but just to be safe,
-we'll put a reserve of 30.
-So that's your bottom line with which you'd be happy.
-But I will be disappointed if it doesn't make 50-80.
-Well, that'd be very good.
-Is that a deal?
-Yeah, gives them more spending money.
-Splendid. Thank you very much indeed.
Thomas has homed in on an unusual necklace
he spotted in the queue earlier.
Catherine, thank you for bringing in this fantastic piece
of late-19th-century vulcanite jewellery.
Tell me - is it something you've had for some time?
It belonged to my mother, she had a collection of Victorian
and Edwardian costumes.
I don't know who gave it to her or whether she purchased it
but when my mum had this collection she would take
them around to various village halls and things to raise money.
-For what reason?
-It went to the local hospital.
-And there was a group of us
who wore the costumes and this was one of the necklaces
-that I used to wear.
-And was it against a black costume?
-It was mourning jewellery.
-A black-beaded costume.
So vulcanite is...
It's like an early plastic.
-Goodyear was the man who sort of invented it.
And it's a mixture of sulphur and India rubber.
Melted and mixed...
And it makes this sort of resin which then gets moulded.
I don't know what the grapes represent.
The grape and vine. The interesting thing about this
is that this is the poor relation to jet.
So, Whitby jet, which took that high polish and was very dark
and very popular in the 19th century.
-But extremely expensive.
-This was its sort of simulant,
so to speak.
It's quite dull, actually, isn't it, really?
It hasn't got that lovely shine.
I think it would have had that shine. All things of rubber -
they do deteriorate over time.
But it's a super, big, bold piece, isn't it?
-Yes, it is lovely.
-And when you're thinking of Victorian jewellery
-that's what you want, you know.
-Do you like it?
-Yes, I do.
-I do like it.
-Why is it here on this table...with me...
about to sell it?
It's just in a box and I wanted to come to Flog It!
-This has got collectors for.
And certainly people who collect early plastics
I think it's worth...
Typical auctioneer's estimate, you know, 100 to 120.
That's what I would like to put...
That's what I think it's worth.
With regards to reserve, I think one should put a sensible reserve
of about £80 on it. That fixes it at 80.
If it doesn't sell for 80,
I think you'd be pleased to keep it, wouldn't you?
Yes. Yes, that would be fine.
Everyone's come out to play today.
-I've thoroughly enjoyed it, actually.
-Has he got a name, that teddy?
-Yes, he's Brigadier Charles Edward.
-He's great, isn't he?
-Thank you very much.
'Well, I'd rather meet him
'in battle than the original owner of our next item.'
So, Pat, I love Japanese katanas, samurai swords.
Tell me, why do you own this sword?
I inherited it from my father, who took it as part of a debt.
-As part of a debt?
-And what did your father do?
-My father was a cycle dealer.
-A cycle dealer? Push-bike?
-We used to make our own frames and that sort of thing.
-Going back to the 1940s-'50s.
Hand-built cycle frames at that time, of course, were the in thing.
So your father took this as a bad debt. Was it always like this?
-Nothing's been done?
I wrote to the British Museum, cos I thought it was an awkward
thing to take up there or put it through the post
and they sent me back a document of appraisal of the whole thing.
Did they give you a date to the blade?
-They reckoned roughly 500 years old.
This is what we call a katana - a long samurai sword.
The samurai, a tribe of Japan, the highest tribe of Japan,
wore these swords, with also another one - a wakizashi, a smaller blade.
There are different components to it.
So the blade, the tsuba, which is the guard, and then menuki,
which is these mounts here, which are later in date.
This bit which they've dated is called the tang.
So you remove the little peg in the blade
and it will all slide off and the tsuba will come out as well.
-Here is what they've deciphered.
And you sent them photographs of the sword maker's name and the details.
On here, you see the dragon, which is
chasing the pearl of eternal life.
This chase and the fight you see, sometimes there's two dragons
and the flaming pearl is used in Japanese and Chinese art.
It's quite rare to see a blade of this age in this country.
Normally, they've come back from the spoils of war,
during the Second World War, after the surrender.
Now, samurai were banned from wearing swords in
the early 20th century, with the new emperor,
and the samurais were almost extinguished from their society.
In that period, the Meiji period, they worked heavily on their art,
such as these bits here, the menuki and the tsuba.
What would have happened is that through 500 years,
when this blade was first forged, the handle would have deteriorated.
So these are late 19th century, early 20th century.
Am I right in assuming, as would the scabbard?
The scabbard would have deteriorated.
This isn't the original?
This is a holding scabbard. We've presented it out like this,
we've broken it down into its component parts.
We've got to think of what it's worth.
-I think these items are collected separately too.
You're quite right. Some of these are worth a lot of money.
That one is a very nice tsuba.
It's probably worth £300-500 just on its own.
-Yes, I'd say.
-And these are worth a little bit of money on their own.
-The blade is probably worth £1,500-2,000 on its own.
So I think an estimate of £2,000-3,000 is very sensible.
-What do you think?
-I'm happy with that.
With regards to reserve, I think
-we need to sort of have a £2,000 reserve.
Possibly, I would suggest a little bit of discretion on it.
So, £2,000-3,000 is the estimate and then the reserve at £2,000,
-with a 10% discretion.
-That's all right.
-Is that all right?
Yes, thank you.
For me, the best thing I've seen all day, the best thing I've
seen in a long time, because it's not just a sword, it's a culture.
Absolutely, Thomas. Well, that's it.
You've just seen it, our final item of the day,
which means sadly it's time to say goodbye to the
Fleet Air Arm Museum, our magnificent host location,
as we go over to the auction room for the very last time today.
And here's a quick recap.
The early-19th-century swagger stick should bring the military
collectors out in force.
And in such pristine condition,
this little T Ford Dinky Toy should do a roaring trade.
A late-19th-century mourning necklace,
but is it a good year for selling vulcanite?
And will Pat's samurai sword, originally given
to his father as a debt repayment, make its money today?
Before we put it to the test,
I caught up with auctioneer Claire Rawle, who wanted to
be 100% sure of its authenticity before she put it under the hammer.
I absolutely love this lot and I cannot wait for the auction.
I really cannot. I want to see the top end plus, Claire!
-Yeah, that would be good.
-We've got £2,000-3,000 on this.
-It is. I must admit, when I initially saw it,
I had a few concerns about it because it's so good.
And there are so many...
There were so many manufactured straight after
the Second World War and so many copies about.
You have to be very careful with Japanese swords, especially samurai
swords - the blades of this length, it is the one area where there's very strict legislation.
Any copies that have been made purely as decorative items,
it's actually against the law to sell.
I certainly couldn't sell them.
I stand a prison sentence and quite a big fine if I did it.
So you have to be very careful with them.
Also, you have to be careful
because there are some countries you just cannot export blades to.
These, above a lot of other swords, particularly Japanese samurai.
Patrick took this to the British Museum
-and they said it is over 500 years old.
So he had a good letter of provenance with this.
Yeah, he just couldn't find it when I spoke to him!
But I also sent off images to a specialist in London.
-He was fine and he wishes us all the best.
-It's all there, isn't it?
Has there been a lot of interest?
I think I'll have them lined up on the telephone and online as well cos the live bidding makes a difference.
One of my guys is quite a long way away.
He's the other side of the world, so he's getting quite excited about it.
So are we. Whatever you do, don't go away. This could get really, really exciting.
Well, it's getting tense here on the front-line of Tamlyns auction house
where the bidders are battling it out at today's fine art
and antique sale.
Pat, did you swagger into the auction room this morning?
I bet you did! Are you confident?
I was going to lend it to Thomas cos I thought it might suit him.
-Well, I don't know about that.
-I think it does, actually.
He looks like an officer. Normally carried by a man in uniform.
-This is my uniform.
-Oh! His auctioneer's uniform!
From the Peninsular War!
-Anyway, good luck.
-Here we go.
-It's going under the hammer right now.
Nice little item, 332. And I start away at £42.
At £42. Do I see five anywhere? At 42.
-50 in the room.
At £50. Bid's in the room now. At £50. Now, do I see five? At £50.
Room bid, then. At 50.
At 50, it's going to sell. Are you all done at £50?
-Well, it's gone and it went rather quickly.
-Yes, it did.
Yes, I thought it might have been of interest,
but then, I suppose you've got to be of an age...
Or have two or three bidders that really want it, to push each other, push those bids up a bit.
-But it's gone. It's gone within estimate. We're happy.
Yeah, that's fine. I'm happy.
A bargain, going for the lower end of Thomas' valuation.
Let's hope Charlie's Dinky car gets some mileage.
Going under the hammer right now, our little toy car,
the Model T Ford belonging to Mike. You know the line, don't you?
-You can have it in any colour you want...
-It has to be black!
-Because black was the paint that dried the quickest.
-Get them off the assembly line.
-Get them out, yeah.
Anyway, good luck with this.
Little Dinky car here. There we are, with its box. The Model T Ford.
It's got a little stand and everything with it. Lot 232.
And I start away at £22. At 22, do I see five anywhere?
Bid's with me at 22.
At 22. At 22. Surely 25. At £22.
At 22. 25. 28.
-Right, we're climbing.
At £30. At £30, it is. Now, do I see two anywhere? The bid's at 30.
All done. It's going to sell at £30.
Gone for £30.
-You wanted it to go.
-I did, yeah.
And it was a gamble.
-I had it in my head around that price.
-Yeah, on the day.
-You're not too disappointed?
-No. Not at all.
-Job done, then.
Catherine has many memories of happy days spent modelling,
associated with her striking vulcanite necklace.
It's like an early Bakelite, isn't it?
Like sort of Victorian plastic - vulcanite.
Yes, it's very light, it looks heavy but it's not at all.
It's lovely to wear.
And are you going to miss this now?
Not really, because it's been in the cupboard for ages.
Well, I think we should get on and sell some antiques right now,
-are you ready for this, Catherine?
-what we've come for, let's get on with it.
This is rather fun, the Victorian vulcanite necklace.
And I'm sure you all had a good look at this.
And this one I have to start straight in at...
-£90. And I'm looking for 100.
120 at the back, at 120...
No, 150 bid's here. At £150, do I see 160?
£160 on the internet.
170, at 170, now 180...
He's still hovering... 180.
No, 180. Net bid this time at £180.
You all sure? Selling, then, at £180...
-What a great result!
And I've learnt something there. I never knew
-anything about vulcanite before.
-Well, I'm glad you pounced on it.
Fingers crossed now for one of the rarest pieces we've
seen on Flog It!
Well, I know Thomas and Patrick have been looking forward to this moment.
You know what's going under the hammer.
We are in the cutting edge of the saleroom with this samurai sword, which is around 500 years old.
I had a chat to Claire and she actually endorsed what you said -
it is right.
The blade is the important thing in this.
The mounts also make it, but the blade is 500 years old
and you look at the way it's been folded, you have that
temper on the blade and all the mounts, the tsubas are wonderful.
We're going to put it to the test right now. It's going under the hammer.
This is the Japanese katana. Going to start it away at £1,300.
At 1,300. Do I see 1,400 anywhere? At 1,300.
1,400 on the net. 15 with me.
At £1,500. At 15. 16 on the net.
17 with me. At £1,700 with me.
At 17, 18, 1,900 with me.
At 1,900. 2,000 on the internet.
-Now on the internet.
-We've got it, Patrick!
At 2,000. Do I see 2,200 anywhere?
At £2,000, the bid's on the internet.
2,200, if you want it, on the phone.
£2,000 on the internet. Do you want to go 2,200?
Yes, we've got 2,200.
At 2,200. 2,400 on the internet? 2,400 on the internet.
2,600 is the next bid.
2,600 on the telephone. At 2,600 on the phone.
At 2,600. 2,800 on the internet.
3,000 on the telephone?
2,900. I'll take 3,000 on the internet, then.
At 2,900 on the telephone. 3,000, he says.
At 3,000. Next bid will be 3,200.
-Well done, Thomas.
At £3,000, are you all done?
It's going to sell to the internet bid at £3,000.
We did it. How about that? What a great result!
Quality, quality, quality.
-Patrick, you've got to be over the moon.
-I'm over the moon.
-You'd have taken the bottom end of that estimate.
-I would have.
What a way to end a show. Patrick, you've put a big smile on our faces
and we've seen absolute quality. Well done, Thomas.
Well done, Claire, on the rostrum. I hope you've enjoyed today's show.
We've had a marvellous time here in Somerset. I cannot wait to come back.
But until then, it's goodbye from all of us.
This episode comes from the Fleet Air Arm Museum situated on HMS Heron, the naval aviation base in Yeovilton, Somerset. Paul Martin is joined by experts Charlie Ross and Thomas Plant, and together they pick out a selection of interesting antiques to be sold at a local auction.
Paul finds out about one of Europe's largest helicopter squadrons which operates out of HMS heron and takes to the skies. He also goes behind the scenes at the museum, where he meets curator Dave Morris, whose pioneering way of working is bringing exhibits to life in a way never previously imagined.