Hollywood daredevil Tom Cruise was spotted in the skies over Wittering at the weekend as he filmed scenes for Mission: Impossible 5.
The 52-year-old, who is famous for doing his own breathtaking stunts, was seen strapped to an Airbus A400M Atlas military transporter as it took off from a runway at RAF Wittering. He was then filmed clinging to the plane while 5,000ft in the air.
Photographer Lee Hellwing, from Stamford, sent us several pictures of the death-defying stunt taken from a spot near Collyweston. In some of the pictures Mr Cruise, dressed in a suit, can be seen on the side of the plane.
Lee went to Wittering after seeing pictures of the Airbus on Facebook. He said: “I decided to try my luck and took a drive around Wittering. The knowledge from when I used to shoot aviation photography gave me the advantage of knowing certain spots to shoot from.
“Checking the places out, I came across film security so was moved on and ended up settling near Collyweston near the flightpath, where I patiently waited and hoped the plane would take off. Initially I tried to photograph the A400M but when it performed its first circuit, I then realised it wasn’t the dummy I had seen from previous pictures but an actual person, who I then presumed was Mr Cruise himself.
“I was really happy that firstly I had got the image of the A400M from the aviation side of things, and secondly had the bonus of capturing a Hollywood star - especially clinging onto the outside of an aircraft at that speed and height!
“It’s an image that will be forever imprinted, never to be forgotten.”
Matt Musgrave, a design engineer at Easton-on-the-Hill firm N J Froment & Co, saw the plane fly over his office. He said: “To be honest it was quite hard to believe but very exciting. It’s not every day that a film star like Tom comes to this area. It will be interesting to see the final cut of the film.”
Word of Tom Cruise’s presence in the Stamford area spread quickly over social media. Dean Cornish tweeted: “Spent the night in the Crown. Just heard Tom Cruise is in the @CosyClubStam - Stamford. Home to the A list.”
Rachel Harris added: “Tom Cruise having tea at Riverside Cafe in Stamford this afternoon apparently.....! #MyAfternoonSorted.”
Thousands of people saw the news on the Mercury’s Facebook page. Paula Fuller posted: “Saw the plane whilst doing the pumpkin trail at Burghley. Chatted to some other people as to what plane it was.”
Stu Taylor said: “Was stood in the Grange at Wittering watching daughter ride, then saw the plane fly over us. So there I stood staring at what I thought was an awesome sight - didn’t realise Tom Cruise was on the side even though that was the side that was facing me.”
And Jane Doyle wrote: “We were just driving down the A1 when we saw the plane taking off right in front of us. It came out of nowhere. Had no idea Tom Cruise was attached at the time. Good job or I might have crashed!”
On Tuesday Mission: Impossible 5 director Christopher McQuarrie tweeted a picture of the Airbus and the filming crew, adding: “Sincerest thanks to everyone at RAF Wittering, Pilot Ed Strongman and team #Airbus. #A400M #MI5 Diary.”
Mission: Impossible 5 is due for release in December next year. The film also stars Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin and Paula Patton. The previous film in the franchise, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, took almost £450m at box offices across the world.