Royal Air force Central Band Archives - Shopfloor

Friday Factory Tunes: Reach for the Skies

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Not enough brass here at Friday Factory Tune, so we’ll rectify that today.

The Chicago Public Radio show, Sound Opinions, alerted us last month to the timeliness of this Royal Air Force Central Band performance.

In the U.K. another hot young star is climbing the charts: Winston Churchill. The wartime Prime Minister ousted The Killers’ Brandon Flowers from the top five, and he’s now neck and neck with Phil Collins and KT Tunstall. Two of Churchill’s most famous speeches appear on the RAF’s Central Band’s new album Reach for the Skies, marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Reach for the Skies” is also the title of Richard Branson’s new memoirs and tribute to aviation. He writes:

In this book I look at the history of flight through the stories and people who have inspired me. These are tales of miraculous rescues; of records made and broken; of surprising feats of endurance and survival, including some of my own adventures, as well as developments in the future of air (and space) travel. This is a story of pioneers, and of course it includes the world famous Montgolfiers and the Wright brothers. But I also want to describe some of the lesser-known trailblazers — people like Tony Jannus, who in 1914 created the world’s first scheduled commercial flight, flying his passengers over the waters of Tampa Bay at an altitude of just fifty feet; the ‘bird man’ Leo Valentin, who in the 1950s jumped from 9,000 feet with wooden wings attached to his shoulders; and my friend, Steve Fossett, who dedicated his life to breaking records and having adventures.

This is their story. It is also, in a small way, my own.

Proposed book club topic: Richard Branson holds the same place in British imagination that Winston Churchill held 70 years ago. Discuss.