Welcome to Buff Films, a fascinating private collection from renowned filmmaker John Edwards. Covering the history of flight, NATO promo films from the 70s and 80s, and historical documentary and newsreel footage throughout the 20th century, this rich and exclusive collection is fully available through Bridgeman Footage.

The only filmed image of the Wright brothers together / Buff Film & Video Library / Bridgeman Images

The only filmed image of the Wright brothers together / Buff Film & Video Library

First flights

Charting the progression of aircraft technology from the very beginning, Buff Films is home to a number of pioneering first flights. See the brave but tragic Franz “Bird Man” Reichelt’s fatal attempt to fly off the Eiffel Tower in 1912, and the comically ambitious early flight prototypes that came soon after. In 1909, French Aviator, Louis Blériot became the first pilot to (just about) successfully fly over the English Channel. Ten years later the first non-stop transatlantic flight by British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown was followed in the same year by two Australian brothers, Ross and Keith Smith, who manned the first flight from England to Australia.

Many an aviation pioneer can be found, including, of course, the legendary Wright Brothers watching the take-off of their Wright Flyer 2… this clip features the ONLY filmed image of the brothers together! Also in the collection is the first flight of the famous Spitfire in 1936, as well as exclusive colour footage of the 1969 maiden flights of the Concorde 001 and 002 in France and the UK respectively.

Early Flight Prototypes / Buff Film & Video Library

Early Flight Prototypes / Buff Film & Video Library

20th Century fighter aircraft

The Buff Films collection observes the construction, design and use of military and commercial aircraft from before the First World War onwards. This includes the construction of the HM Airship R100 in 1927 and rare footage of Barnes Wallis, British aircraft engineer and inventor of the Bouncing Bomb, at the drawing board. Here, keen kite-flyer Adolf Simon tells of his recruitment to the air force in WWI. Fighter aircraft was then so new, he was more qualified than most to take on the job! See this clip of WWI aircraft and pilots, which features the military funeral of Manfred “The Red Baron” von Richtofen, held by the British enemy out of respect for the formidable 22 year old German fighter pilot.

Here, the aircraft enemies of WWII, the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt Bf109, go head to head in a classic dogfight. Buff Films also hosts much rare aviation footage, such as that of the 22-jet aerobatic team, the Black Arrows, who were the largest fighter jet aerobatic formation team in history. This stunning one-off piece of aerobatics footage in Egypt, filmed by John Edwards himself, was captured “off the record” and never to be filmed again, and just as rare is this piece of 1972 colour air-to-air footage of a pre-WWI Bristol Boxkite, which was grounded after filming, never to fly again.

Vickers Aviation / Buff Film & Video Library

Vickers Aviation / Buff Film & Video Library

History of NATO

The subject of aviation continues into Buff Films’ NATO material, with extensive rushes of various NATO fighter jet models and missiles in action, as well as NATO promotional documentaries on airborne Early Warning Radar defence systems. These films also cover the history of NATO, post WWII politics and the Cold War, including events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall.

From rare vintage aerial shots of European lands, in the Orson Welles narrated “High Journey,” to the headquarters of NATO with appearances from Madeleine Albright, Margaret Thatcher and other leaders, this collection covers NATO’s involvement in international conflicts, environmental concerns, and scientific development.

The role of NATO's 'Eye in the Sky', Boeing E3A aircraft. / Buff Film & Video Library

The role of NATO’s ‘Eye in the Sky’, Boeing E3A aircraft. / Buff Film & Video Library

A newsreel history

Some of our most dramatic footage comes from Buff Films, with “They Made News“; a series of rare interviews with, and footage by, the cameramen who filmed some of the 20th century’s most pivotal moments in news history.

From the catastrophes of the Hindenburg in 1937 and the B-25 Empire State Building crash in 1945, to the iconic histories of the Prohibition Era and WWII, these interviews also cover such wide-reaching events as the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia, and the highly publicised trial if the Lindbergh kidnapper, Bruno Hauptmann. If you’ve got the stomach for it, watch the 1947 discovery of the astounding Dutch body-piercer Mirin Dajo, who used his “miraculous” ability to preach against materialism and encourage belief in a higher force.

They Made News, Part 1 - body piercer, Mirin Dajo, 1947 / Buff Film & Video Library

They Made News, Part 1 – body piercer, Mirin Dajo, 1947 / Buff Film & Video Library

Find out more

Bridgeman Footage is proud to represent this colourful, expansive and fascinatingly detailed collection of archive material, which often brings to light rare and little-seen pieces of history. John Edwards’s Buff Films is exclusive to Bridgeman Footage and available to license. If you need help with your project, we have expert researchers on hand to find the clips you need.
Contact our Sales Team for more information at uksales@bridgemanimages.com

Click here to see our Buff Films showreel…

The Wright Brothers testing an early plane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (sepia photo)

The Wright Brothers testing an early plane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (sepia photo)