I first heard of MLE Pyrotechnics from I the UKFR forum in 2000. I had been speaking to Mat and talking about what pyro people do! I was basically asking millions of questions and seeing what like is like from the side of the trade i.e. a professional point of view, and of course trying to show my competence with pyrotechnics in the hope that someday I would help MLE with a show!

This was my first crazy year of pyro. I basically brought everything I could rather foolishly perhaps but it was still fun :) I had almost everything from the whole standard range!!

A few months passed he invited me to a show in Essex, I of course jumped at the chance and we agreed that I would help set-up during the day, and film the event in the evening. I was also invited to see some of the MLE stores, its amazing to see piles of boxes full of pyro. It makes my 'small' November show look pathetic!

Myself at one of MLE's storage sites!

Whilst speaking to Mat, I was given some pointers and safety guidelines that were to be followed, this I had anticipated since it was something that is always hammered in to your head from UKFR "SAFETY FIRST!" Working with MLE was no exception and they took this very seriously.

June 2nd
I arrived at Essex and Mat had arranged for Julian, who fires MLE shows for MLE Essex, to meet me and show me the site until he arrived from Rugby with the rest of his crew. Whilst we were waiting I assisted Julian carry firing racks over to the site this involved carrying several heavy tubes and rack across a field in the hot sunshine! Lessons 1 don’t wear a white T-shirt! It was quickly covered in old pyro from previous shows!

Images from unpacking the MLE van!!

Mat arrived shortly after and we spent an hour unloading / chatting about the show, which had been designed and choreographed by a nice bloke called Ian :)

The show was to be fired electronically from a system that made my DIY pin board look so basic! I took note of this for future ideas for my own hehehe

2” to 8” shells were to be used, with a few MLE specials that they designed in China… This was some new stock and there were high hopes for these that were well lived up to once the show had got underway!

Fused 2-3 and 4 inch shells.

The day was spent arranging shells and other fireworks into firing racking, nothing is preloaded as it is considered too hazardous to transport. Still this was interesting and during the day we were fed and watered by the organisers of the show, which was great! Its not often people bring you food whilst you are working on something you enjoy!

The show was organised in a way that all the large shells were placed at the back of the field with an extra-added distance for the 8inch shell. It’s so cool, seeing it all set up.

The many Roman candle barrages

The Roman candle barrages were placed near the front of the site with smaller cakes, and there was also a mine sequence there.

Fusing of the smaller 2.5 inch shells, with new MLE racks (bet they don't stay this clean for long!)

I almost forgot to mention this show was to be done to sound! It was after all a Jubilee show. The PA guys arrived with an EV audio rig (I like my audio also) so I had a quick look at the set-up and then continued helping with the show.


An image of one of the PA stacks

Around 7-8 PM we were ready to do continuity checks and all tested positive, which was nice! It was then time to for me to relax (!!) get my DV cam ready whilst Mat checked and rechecked everything just to be sure about what was going to happen and when.

Here shows the rocket clusters placed in 6 inch tubes, and in the back shows the 8 inch shell (yum yum!)

One of the highlights of the day was a test fire on a ground maroon these were to be used in the 1812 overture for the cannons. Do not ever underestimate the power of flash powder!! The maroon only contained 25g but I nearly had an out of body experience when the thing was fired! I got it on video and you can see how I jump its quite amazing, Apparently these things go to 600g but I have no idea what they would be used for, except to leave a massive crater!

MLE mine barrage. This was a nice piece of engineering. This produced a fan mine effect from left to right with about 0.25 sec delay between the charges.

So everything was ready I had set up my old tripod and I stood ready for the show. It started with two of MLE’s acclaimed strobes! These were placed behind the trees and created a nice silhouette.
I'm not going to write about the whole show, only my highlights, since this is not a review of the show. If you want to see any of this then you can d/l it from me or I can even provided DVD if you want, if you cover cost of the media and postage.
I think perhaps my favourite section was the Z cake this was a new one and worked really well. The 2.5 inch tiger tail shells were excellent also. I don't understand why rockets cannot be this good at this size. Also of interest were the Whistling dragons teeth approx. 1000 were fired, and the effect was excellent! I cannot wait till I help again with the next show, Perhaps one day I shall make it to be a Pro firer!


Show starts with two gerbs and a selection of Roman candles. / A shot of a 6 Inch shell.


One of the Crazy Ground maroons. These were truly crazy! / More shells and cake sequence.


Even more shell bursts!


This you can see is part of the Z fire cake This looked great! / The 8 inch shell was fantastic!


Part of the finale. This images does not do it justice. You need to see the clip to understand!

I hope this was interesting, I know its not that detailed, but I only have so much time!

Ed