Next up on the Skyscenes tour of duty was a display
at Felixstowe in Suffolk, and the chance to report
from behind the scenes at the town's popular annual
The day started off really well with brilliant
weather and a chance encounter with Skyscenes
on the dual carriageway leading towards the town.
Putting the old V6 into third gear it was a pleasure
to burn off the ambling Gerry who responded to
my toot of the horn with a furious wave. Still
he had the last laugh because overtaking him meant
we could not follow the van to the firing site
and we ended up getting a bit lost. Tortoise and
the hare and all that.
We finally both made it on site which was a wide,
open school playing field a few hundred metres
from the main park where the carnival was.
managed to get out of PE class early to help set
- You can
click on any thumbnail to view a bigger picture
That's the van unloaded and here are the
shell racks in the process of being made secure.
Lots of timber (and tools)
required as always. In the background is one
of the cake sections, you can see some quite
large ones there!
Steve at work on the fusing. You can see
the yellow and green quickmatch by the box
load It's surprising just how much fuse is
needed in a pro display - and it ain't cheap!
A fan of professional candles.
These have a length of quickmatch coming out
of the top into which will be inserted an
electrical ignitor - Steve wanted to ensure
the timing on these was perfect.
The camcorder surveys the scene. Gerry shows
some rare savoir-faire with his hat
while PeteB continues his fast-track pyro
management training and stands "supervising"
the proceedings ;-)
Closer view of the shells being
fused up. For those who are interested you
can also see a mix of mortar tubes here, with
the traditional card ones and some plastic
ones too (the orange ones). The high density
plastic ones are reputed to last much, much
longer than the card ones - but cost a lot
more to buy.
General view of the firing area. Hope the
people across the road have got their cats
Close-up detail of an aerial
shell label, in this case a four inch brocade
A potpourri of aerial shells of various sizes
and brands. It is such a shame that these
are now professional use only, the fall out
from these is negligible compared to cat 2
and 3 rockets.
A detailed close-up of a professional
(category four) shell in case you've never
seen one before. Note the warning "constructed
to fire instantly". It is up to the firer
fuse this as required.
Finishing off the fusing (which for this
show took around two hours to complete) and
covering the tubes with foil, Steve enjoys
the very last of the day's sun.
Another view of the professional
candles, here they are now electrically primed
as required. Time to tidy the wiring.
Here (bottom) is a standard electrical connection
box which allows a display to be organised
more easily for electrical firing. You can
follow the wiring here from the box to the
fireworks and then beyond to the next rack.
Well there goes the sun. What
a perfect day while it lasted. Oh well!
No other words needed.
After a very pleasant afternoon
covering the setting up in glorious sunshine, darkness
fell, which brought with it a serious issue, an
increasing amount of rabbit crap on my boots which
I could no longer avoid in the dark unless I switched
the camcorder to 0 lux mode and used it as night
vision! Add to this a complete change in the weather
as some quite thick mist started to form. This might
pose a problem with the high action fireworks such
as aerial shells.
As the time approached for the show,
Steve confirmed with the organisers that he would
await a crowd countdown then fire a single small
firework as agreed. The compere would jokingly say
that the countdown was not loud enough and another
was needed to get the "proper" display
started, and Bob's your uncle the crowd would count
down again really loudly and look out Butlin's here
we come with our new act!
With minutes to go me and PeteB
had to decide how to cover this display. With the
dank mist overhead I decided not to bother with
still images, and opted for the safer option of
the camcorder. PeteB likes a challenge though and
decided to try his luck with the SLR.
We hopped over the fence with our
camera gear - mixing with the public who the organisers
were clearing just in the nick of time - and made
our way to our chosen filming point, a bit of grassland
halfway between the site and the park. Actually
I say "hopped over", it was in fact a
five foot and rather unsteady fence, and we are
not quite as nimble as we used to be. In fact to
be honest getting over the fence probably took longer
than the fireworks were due to last, and resulted
in more pulled muscles than when I last moved the
At the due time, we were ready with
the cameras, Skyscenes were ready and told the organisers
this, and the crowd started to countdown. "3-2-1..."
were the last three numbers and then BANG, Skyscenes
obliged with the required single firework. Pandemonium
and chaos followed on the walkie talkie. That was
not, apparently, the firework countdown.
The organisers had decided to count something else
down at the same time and not inform the firing
After this initial confusion the
show proceeded as planned and the fireworks themselves
were excellent. Despite the mist which obscured
some of the higher action, the show was Skyscene's
typical mix of colour and sound with high and low
action. Feedback from the spectator's who watched
from the adjacent road was very positive (one person
said the fireworks were the best he had seen).
A great show despite the mist
Video stills (click to enlarge):
A good night's pyro in the end,
well done to Steve and the crew for performing a
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