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Aeroplane a model star of Kingdom

PUBLISHED: 11:46 31 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:45 08 July 2010

Thousands of Norfolk people will have watched the latest edition of the comedy drama Kingdom which featured low-flying aircraft over the county.

But one man watching particularly closely was Keith Whiddett, who was in on a production trade secret.

Thousands of Norfolk people will have watched the latest edition of the comedy drama Kingdom which featured low-flying aircraft over the county.

But one man watching particularly closely was Keith Whiddett, who was in on a production trade secret.

When a television production company wanted to film low- flying aircraft for the present series of Kingdom, it turned to his skills as a model aircraft maker.

For the episode shown on Sunday, Kingdom Productions, which makes the Norfolk-based drama series starring Stephen Fry as a country solicitor, wanted to show low-flying aircraft proving a menace to one of the local residents. Using real aircraft would have been too dangerous, so they turned to Mr Whiddett, who is a member of both the Norwich and Bury St Edmunds Model Aero Clubs.

The result was a six-hour shoot for Mr Whiddett and a friend at Little Snoring Airfield featuring two model F15s, with Mr Whiddett using all his "piloting" skills to make the radio- controlled models bank and dip to look as if they were "buzzing" property. The footage was later mixed with a town scene to give the impression of low-flying aircraft over houses.

Mr Whiddett, who lives in the Three Score area of Bowthorpe, said: "The production company approached a Norwich model shop and they put them on to me. Originally they wanted Tornadoes but they aren't made as flying models. I had a pair of F15s available and they agreed to use them."

The filming involved some highly skilful precision shooting with the massive models which are one-tenth the scale of the real thing and are two metres long and 1.7 metres wide.

"They wanted me to fly directly at the camera at head height before pulling up and shooting over it. We got as close as we could, but it was a tricky manoeuvre. The models are large and weigh 22lb each. We couldn't afford to make any mistakes," added Mr Whiddett.

As well as his F15, Mr Whiddett has a model Mirage, an F86 and two sports aerobatic planes. He is building a Red Arrows Hawk and a Tristar.

"I have flown model planes from a child when I moved on from paper ones to balsa wood models. When I started working and earning money, I moved on to radio-controlled models. It is the closest I will probably get to being in the real thing. The sound, the power, the smell is great. The models are powered by real jet engines and they burn jet fuel and can reach speeds of up to 220mph. It is just the thrill of having all that speed and power under your control" he said.

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