British Gazelle pilot sparks anti-terrorist alert

British Gazelle pilot sparks anti-terrorist alert

15-Apr-2012 Source: HeliHub.com

A badly reported story in the UK on Saturday needs clearing up!  According to the Ministry of Defence, “two QRA Typhoons were scrambled from RAF Coningsby when a small civilian aircraft was transmitting inadvertently on an emergency frequency and was out of radio communication with Air Traffic Control.  Authorisation was given for one of the Typhoons to transit at supersonic speed over land, which resulted in the sonic boom heard by the public.  The Typhoons intercepted a civilian Gazelle helicopter in the vicinity of Bristol, and, after identification, the helicopter successfully re-established communications with Air Traffic Control.

The BBC reported, along with other broadcast media, that the sonic boom was heard far and wide, potentially much wider that it really happened – including the counties of West Midlands, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

While we do not have any problem with the fact that these two highly sophisticated jets were scrambled, but we do doubt that the helicopter was intercepted over Bristol, given that the Gloucestershire Airport facebook page reports that “it was ATC at Gloucestershire Airport who advised the pilot that his transponder code wasn’t quite right“.    It would appear logical from this claim that they checked the transponder code as the helicopter entered their airspace from the north, perhaps 60 miles prior to overflying Bristol.  Our sources suggest that the helicopter was never out of contact with Air Traffic Control either.

Perhaps some creative writing was used by the Ministry of Defence here as it provided a great opportunity for the UK to reiterate to the world that it is fully prepared for anything untoward happening around the time of the Olympic Games, due to start in London at the end of July.

HeliHub.com understands the civilian Gazelle helicopter was returning southbound from Aintree racecourse after the Grand National – reputedly “the world’s greatest steeplechase” – to a private site on the south coast.

Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com

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