Beware of Low Flying Helicopters!

It's been a busy week for the Northern Constabulary police. Not only are they investigating  Robbie the Pict's complaint that the Toll Order Assignation Statement was flawed, but now they're out to nick low flying helicopter pilots.

Not only once, but TWICE recently, there have been reports that a helicopter flew UNDERNEATH the Skye Bridge.

The bridge is 32 metres (105 feet) above high water. A pilot who flew his light aircraft beneath it last year escaped prosecution because he claimed he was avoiding a flock of seagulls.

But according to local resident Ian Sikorski that was not what happened on June 14 and 15. He said. "Our house is situated overlooking the bridge and as the helicopter flew right along the kyle you could tell by the height of it that it wasn't going to go over the bridge."

"It seemed to be the same one on both occasions, certainly a similar one. I saw it happen last year. I reported it to the police on all three occasions. One time there were actually people standing on the bridge looking down on it, so it was obviously very dangerous and against the law."

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that it was indeed illegal. "The local police in Skye have been in touch with us and we have been advising them on aviation law in respect of alleged offences of this type. We have not been involved in trying to locate the aircraft. We have only been acting in an advisory capacity."

"Under the Air Navigation Order there is something called the 500ft rule. This prohibits the flight by aircraft closer than 500ft to any 'person, vessel, vehicle or structure'. This has the force of law, although I am not sure what penalties it carries."

Helicopters are a common site in the Highlands and Islands, with many employed flying fish food to remote fish-farming sites. Some estates also use them to fly guests and equipment around, while other commercial interests also employ them for carrying personnel and helicopter tours.


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Copyright Ray Shields, 2003.

Most recent revision, 27 June 2003