When Jerry Grayson left the Royal Navy's Search and Rescue helicopter fleet aged 25, he was the most decorated peacetime naval pilot in history. In terms of excitement, however, civilian life couldn't compete – especially when the only real demand for helicopter pilots was as glorified chauffeurs for the very wealthy.
Jerry had a passion for the movies and spotted a way in to a new career. Somebody had to fly those crazy acrobatic stunts and capture dramatic aerial footage, and he reckoned he could do it better, push his helicopter further, and guarantee the most exciting shots, which other pilots might have considered impossible. And he was right.
Over the past 35 years Jerry has become the go-to man for aerial filmmaking, shooting everything from music videos, car commercials and nature documentaries to the Athens Olympic Games and the landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. But it is in Hollywood that Jerry has really made his mark. He was barely out of his 20s when he worked on the airborne finale to the James Bond film A View to a Kill, and that helped cement his reputation for the decades since.
Film Pilot: Flying the Lens is full of entertaining behind-the-scenes stories (some that almost ended in disaster for Jerry and an A-list actor or two…) and revelatory insights into just how this invisible sector of the film business operates. We all take aerial footage for granted, without appreciating the lengths gone to shoot it. This is perhaps never more apparent than when Jerry's skills are called upon to gather more important footage – the burning oilfields of Kuwait following the first Gulf War, and flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.