A detailed training film for RAF Bomber Command aircrew, describing the construction and deployment of the airborne lifeboat. A large part of the film is devoted to the handling of the boat under sail and the ability to navigate to a friendly coastline irrespective of unfavourable wind and sea conditions. Effective use is made of animated diagrams to supplement the commentary.
Reel one: Film opens with a view of the airborne lifeboat (ABL) at sea with a bomber crew aboard. Cut to an ABL inside a hangar surrounded by a crew listening to an officer explaining the construction of the ABL, the supplementary equipment necessary to ensure it is seaworthy, and the onboard facilities available to aid their survival. The ABL is self righting, has several watertight chambers for stowage of equipment, and a drogue which may be deployed to provide a sea anchor to stabilise the ABL in a strong wind. Propulsion is provided by the two engines, by sails or rowing. The officer concludes his overall introduction and the film cuts to a bomber crew in a dinghy about eight miles from the enemy coast. An RAF aircraft approaches and circles, the crew wave and fire a Very light, the aircraft flies overhead and releases the ABL downwind of the dinghy. Three parachutes deploy to settle the ABL on the sea, retrieval lines fired to port and starboard, one of which is grabbed by the crew to pull themselves to the ABL and climb aboard. The parachutes have automatically detached and sink, as does the dinghy after the buoyancy bags are slashed.
Reel two: The RAF aircraft reports the ABL’s location to the air/sea rescue service and departs for base. The ABL crew retrieve items from the lockers; compass, food, flares, radio, thermal suits and other items to sustain them until rescued. The twin engines are started; very detailed explanation. The captain allocates responsibilities to each member of the crew. Cut to night time, crew huddled together to keep warm. Navigator estimates their position to be 49 miles from the enemy coast and sets a course for south west England. They calculate how far the engine fuel will take them, and decide it will be necessary to raise the mast and sails to supplement the engine power. The camera pans to each member of the crew, attending to their allocated task. Cut to view of the ABL riding a moderate sea at night; at dawn the crew eat sparingly of the rations. The mast is raised, the drop keel and rudder lowered and the two sails deployed. Detailed explanations are given by the narrator for each item of activity, accompanied by camera close ups.
Reel three: Film opens to the ABL at sea with the engines turned off. Detailed instructions for the basic elements of sailing are given, as the crew adjust the sails to suit the deteriorating weather and sea conditions. At wind speeds above 35 mph, a drogue is streamed upwind from the boat, the sails, rudder, mast, lowered and the keel raised. The crew fasten their safety harness to the ABL and gather forward, in the lee of the enclosed area. A map is shown depicting their progress towards SW England. The storm passes; the film shows the ABL sails raised, and at 70 miles from the enemy coast, a kite is released which incorporates an aerial. The transmitter is activated by a rotary handle to alert the rescue authorities of their location. A searching aircraft is sighted; the crew release flares; the aircraft appears overhead as an RAF rescue launch (2554) alters course towards the ABL. The launch comes alongside the ABL, the crew transfer, takes the ABL in tow and returns to port. Film closes as the pair of vessels enter harbour.