Perils of being a 007 stuntman
QUESTION With all the violence in the James Bond films over 50 years, has anyone been seriously injured during the making of a Bond film? A trAgic accident befell eminent cameraman Johnny Jordan during the filming of 1967’s You Only Live twice.
in the sequence involving Bond’s autogyro, Little Nellie, being attacked by two Bell 47 helicopters, one came too close to Jordan’s helicopter and a blade sliced into his foot, which was dangling over the side.
He took pictures of the all-but- severed limb as the helicopter descended, because it was the only thing he could think of to do.
A team of micro-surgeons were able to reattach the foot, but he opted to have it removed on his return to London from Japan. Jordan took to the air again, sometimes accessing very cramped spaces by removing his prosthetic limb.
He was an aerial cameramen for the 1969 Battle Of Britain film, but lost his life the next year when he fell 2,000ft from a B25 bomber while filming catch 22, his ability to balance having been reduced.
Tony Beard, Billericay, Essex. i’ve just finished reading roger Moore’s autobiography My Word is My Bond and he tells the story of his stunt double, Martin grace, who suffered a terrible accident.
Filming was taking place along the Nene valley railway near Peterborough and Martin had to move along the outside of the train from one carriage to another.
He had rehearsed the manoeuvre and checked along the track to ensure the line was clear of obstructions but when it came to the actual filming, as Moore relates, ‘soon after setting off the train was called to a halt for some technical reason.
‘When filming resumed, they didn’t restart from the beginning of the pre- checked length of track, which meant they overshot the length of track that Martin had inspected. the train hurtled along and Martin hit a huge concrete post, side-on.
‘i can’t imagine the number of bones it shattered, but Martin continued holding onto the side of the train for dear life as, had he let go, he would have fallen under the wheels. He was in hospital for months.’
Moore goes on to say he visited Martin in hospital and thought he would never work again, but praised him for the fact that sheer determination and a fitness regime got him back to work relatively quickly.
Moore himself had a pretty nasty accident when driving a jet boat in Live And Let Die. these boats work on high-pressure jets of water being pushed out of the back of the boat to propel it forward and if you run out of fuel you lose your steering, which is what happened to Moore. He went straight into a wooden boathouse, flew out of the boat and straight into a wall. He suffered cracked teeth and a badly twisted knee.
Gareth Griffith, Blyth, Notts. WHiLe filming the high-speed chase in the bobsled run in For Your eyes Only (1981), the four-man bobsled hit a tree and Paolo rigon, a young stuntman in side was killed.
During filming of the 15-minute car chase which opened A Quantum Of Solace (2008), Aris comninos, an experienced greek stuntman, collided with a lorry and crashed into a wall. He was playing a villain chasing James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 in an Alfa romeo 159 along a curving road by the shore of Lake garda, italy.
comninos had worked on a previous Bond movie, tomorrow Never Dies, as well as Saving Private ryan and the Bourne Ultimatum, for which he won a Screen Actors guild Award. He suffered a fractured cranium. He has recovered, but hasn’t appeared in any films since.
George Pullman, London E4. QUESTION I took a Concorde flight from London Heathrow to Bahrain on December 19, 1979. Is it possible to track down the plane through records to obtain its registration number so that I can visit the aircraft? cONcOrDe entered Air France and British Airways transatlantic service in 1976. twenty concorde airframes were produced, but only 14 flew commercially.
With a crew of nine, concorde could fly at 1,350mph (2,150kph) at an altitude of 60,000ft (18,181m), high enough for its 100 passengers to see the earth’s curvature.
Only one concorde flew the South-east Asia route in the time frame given. On December 9, 1977, BA and Singapore Airlines started a thrice-weekly service between Heathrow and Singapore — Paya Lebar via Bahrain, a nine-hour journey. the technical crew and operations were supplied by British Airways with cabin crew split between the two companies.
BA had been denied permission by the indian government to fly supersonic over their country, which concorde was forced to avoid, adding more flight time and increasing the fuel consumption.
the concorde assigned to the Singapore route was g-BOAD. it was repainted with the Singapore Airlines livery on its left side, BA’s was kept on the right side.
the service was withdrawn on December 13, 1977 after only three return flights, because of complaints from the Malaysian government about the supersonic boom over the Straits of Malacca.
On January 24, 1979, the service was resumed with new routes avoiding Malaysia and Singapore take-offs out to sea.
the service was ended for good on November 1, 1980, mainly because of falling traffic on the route, which was reportedly losing around £2 million a year.
g-BOAD later set the fastest Atlantic crossing by any concorde on February 7, 1996, taking off from New York JFK and landing at London Heathrow two hours, 52 minutes, and 59 seconds later. g-BOAD also clocked up more air time than any other concorde, at 23,397 hours. it departed from Heathrow for the final time on November 10, 2003, and flew to JFK airport in New York.
For a while it was stored at the Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, where its nose cone was knocked off by a truck in June 2008. it was repaired and is now at the intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, NY.
Adam Marsh, Fareham, Hants. QUESTION Who were considered the greatest athletes of the original (Ancient Greek) Olympic era? FUrtHer to the earlier answer, for women, the most important athlete in the ancient world was cynisca, a princess of Sparta.
the ancient Olympic games were almost entirely male- only and women were forbidden even to set foot in the main stadium at Olympia, where running events and combat sports were held.
Women were allowed to enter only the equestrian events — but only by owning and training the horses. cynisca employed men and her team at the Olympics won in the four-horse chariot racing twice, in 396 Bc and again in 392 Bc.
cynisca was honoured by having a bronze statue of a chariot and horses, a charioteer and a statue of herself in the temple of Zeus in Olympia.
Emme Conta, Leeds.
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