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The Red Checkers

Television (Full Length) – 1985

This 1985 TVNZ documentary follows the recruitment of three new pilots into the Red Checkers acrobatic flying squadron of the Royal NZ Air Force. The pilots train to fly formations, loops and low level passes. There are close calls, and interviews with pilots and their spouses. What does it take to be a Kiwi Top Gun? Squadron leader (and future NZ Defence Force chief) Bruce Ferguson: "he's got to have confidence in himself, his abilities and to be a wee bit of a showman." The documentary marked one of the earliest directing credits for Emmy Award-winner Mike Single.  

Normal flying formation for the Air Force is around 70 feet apart; for some pilots that’s not enough. For them that special skill, and thrill, of flying with wing-tips just a metre apart is something to aim for.
– Narrator John Gordon

Key Cast & Crew

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John Gordon


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Patricia Bishop


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Mike Single

Director, Camera

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David Madigan

Sound - Track layer

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Lloyd McFadden


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Rod Wilson


See all 18 credits