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Thread: We have lost the plot !

  1. #1
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    We have lost the plot !

    My newspaper reports that the good citizens of a wide swathe of Central England were roused from their fireside torpor shortly after 6.0pm on Thurs. by the sounds of some extremely loud explosions. Fearing the worst, they phoned the Police and the Fire Brigade and the RSPCA, the NSPCC and anyone else that they thought could either explain or render assistance.

    It transpired, that the civilian pilot of a helicopter was inadvertantly squawking 'emergency' on his transponder. This provoked the Armed Forces eg. the RAF into attack mode - or something like it. Two Eurofighters, or 'fighter jets' as the Press would describe them, were scrambled.

    One aircraft, it was alleged, was instructed to produce a sonic boom or several, which noise brought the aforementioned citizens to block the airwaves with panic calls. One witness said that the Eurofighters were circling the hapless helicopter presumably to check whether it had hostile intentions or not.

    One wonders if anyone thought of asking the pilot by radio - he was surely listening to en route frequencies ? - if he was aware of his squawk and was it intentional.

    Was it entirely necessary to scramble not one but two hugely expensive bits of kit and then to indulge in the un-necessary histrionics of sonic booms?

    Let's hope the MoD do not send the bill for this wasteful exercise to the heli pilot


    John Green

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    I take it these same loonies who heard the Bang ,& ran around the streets shouting " Invasion Invasion "are the same people who panic bought Petrol & stored it in Jam Jars next to their central heating boilers . These people are now buying up millions of 1st class stamps & papering their bedrooms with them as an investment & a hedge against inflation . 19 yr olds used to fly Spitfires , but they cant even wipe their own bums these days without checking their I phone first !!!Sorry I now have to rush off & celebrate some Liner that sunk 100 yrs ago ...( We really need to get a grip )

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    I read the helicopter pilot accidentally squawked "Hijack"

    I doubt if they'd ask him on radio incase the hijackers were listening in and risk giving the tip off away.

    If that was the case then the respose and lack of radio request makes sense.
    Last edited by garryrussell; 14th April 2012 at 12:41.

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    I heard that he also squawked the hijack code 7500. It makes me wonder if he had a radio issue (squawk code 7600) and accidently put 7500 in, causing others to have difficulty getting in contact with him via the RT.
    Y.N.W.A

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    Is it wise to put the code on an open forum?
    I have kleptomania,But when it gets bad
    I take something for it.

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    Yeah it's fine. You can find it on various forums and even in pilot training manuals aswell. It's not a big secret, it's all taught from the PPL and upwards.
    Y.N.W.A

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    Sounds like a couple of bored alert pilots finally given the chance to `open the taps` and intercept something.
    Can't say I blame them.

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    Go on --I dare you to Squawark again ---Just for fun !!!

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    The BBC article here explains the possible hijacking due to a wrong code.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17699357

    The sequence of events were backed up by the helicopter pilot

    So. the plot was not lost...they were bang on with their reaction

    I guess if it had been genuine and it had been flown into a target there would be an outcry that the plot was lost because more was not done.

  10. #10
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    Re 9

    Garry,
    I don't think that you have 'lost the plot' so much as missed it by a fairly wide margin!

    The 'plot lost' refers primarily to the numbers of bewitched, bu****ed and bewildered citizenry who, upon hearing a number of enexplained bangs or in their fevered imaginations, explosions, and fearing Armageddon, invaded the emergency airwaves, thus making it impossible for my granny or yours or, anybodies granny to obtain emergency assistance in the event that they needed it.

    I repeat my accusation. This nation has, in large measure 'lost the plot'. We do not anymore do 'understatement'. Instead, we do 'overkill'. Why just two hideously expensive Eurofighters? Garry, you, me and all of us need to be querying the misuse of our tax pounds via letters to our MP. What was wrong with another helicopter? Or, a Tucano? Or, anything with a sufficient turn of speed that is equipped with military and civilian radios operating on their respective frequencies?

    That is why I'm suspicious. The whole charade has a strong whiff of publicity and intimidation about it. It is as though the boys at the MoD ahead of the Olympics wanted to ram home a point and make quite sure that the rest of us who might be tempted into the skies during this meaningless junket known as the Olympics were fully cognisant of what could lurk concealed around the back of the nearest cloud base.

    John Green

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    Hello John

    the media hype certainly loses the plot

    It's hard to say how serious the authorities took it, perhaps they felt it operationally justified, perhaps they used it to show their force.

    I did rile me, as usual with silly things like explaining what a sonic boom was to people who you'd think the end of the World has come just because something goes bang in the sky.

    The whole Olympics this in my opinion is a waste of money even without factoring in the security but as I mentioned above perhaps they wanted to justify the existance of their measures.

    One thing for sure...if you're flying and make a simple mistake you could end up in a very serious situation.

  12. #12
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    I Agree ..instead of these highly professional pilots doing the job , that I the Tax payer , pay them to do . I would much prefer to see them lounging around in stale crew rooms , drinking instant coffee , reading dubious magazines & popping out for the occassional ciggy. Start time 9am , go home at 5pm. The nice expensive aircraft can be drained of oil & fuel & be stored in damp sheds & good 20 minute walk away , down the bottom of the airfield . Now that we have Community support Officers taking over most of the UK security, perhaps we can do away with the whole of the UK Armed forces . ( In the great scheme of UK Defence spending , I would imagine that sending 2 Typhoons up & going supersonic , would cost mere pennies )

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    Autostick

    The cost of these shenanigans is a point; it is not THE point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Green View Post
    Was it entirely necessary to scramble not one but two hugely expensive bits of kit and then to indulge in the un-necessary histrionics of sonic booms?
    AFAIK, the alert jets ALWAYS scramble in pairs, a lead and a wingman.
    This situation was no different to any other scramble in that respect.

    I suppose you think it's a waste of money sending out soldiers on combat patrol in troops rather than on their own, right?
    To say nothing about daring to spend your tax money on arming said troops with 4 full magazines rather than just 2.
    Last edited by Bmused55; 17th April 2012 at 21:39.
    Bmused55

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    What was wrong with another helicopter? Or, a Tucano? Or, anything with a sufficient turn of speed that is equipped with military and civilian radios operating on their respective frequencies?
    Because squawking 7500 alerts ATC to a potential danger to national security and the typhoons, part of QRA, are the most capable planes to get to the aircraft quickly to check it out and deal with an aircraft that may not have the most innocent intentions.

    If it had been the worst outcome and the chopper was hijacked and crashed into something the public would be asking why there was no response from anyone until after the accident.

    It's just a case of a damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    Could be worse though, on another forum some people seem very very obsessed with the idea that they went to intercept a UFO.
    Y.N.W.A

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    Why would QRA aircraft be instructed to produce a sonic boom overland? The hijackers wouldn't be able to hear it...
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups!

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    EGTC that is an excellent summing up of the situation faced by those who decide to scramble the QRA. Offshore intercepts in peacetime do not have the same urgency, hence no max rate rush and range has to be taken into account.

    If can imagine a scenario where a hi jacked helicopter packed with explosive and a suicide bomber is heading overland within range of several targets then I am sure others with ill intent have had thr same idea.

    This intercept demonstrates an alert attitude to threats and I say well done.

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    Re 15 and 17

    This subject is about over reaction, panic, overkill and stupidity.

    The Eurofighters were an exercise in futility and un-necessary expense. No would-be hi-jacker will advertise his/her presence by squawking emergency. That is inviting an unwelcome response.

    A repeat of 9/11 originating from within these shores is for logistical and security reasons - unlikely.

    A more likely scenario, is a lightish a'c on a remote farm strip loaded with a ton of explosive which takes a selected route towards a likely target at 500 hundred feet or less. If anyone sees it coming, I'll be more than amazed.


    John Green

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    Quote Originally Posted by EGTC View Post
    If it had been the worst outcome and the chopper was hijacked and crashed into something
    For example GCHQ?

    This could well be the key to the extreme sensitivity in this case

    Moggy
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    The Eurofighters were an exercise in futility and un-necessary expense. No would-be hi-jacker will advertise his/her presence by squawking emergency. That is inviting an unwelcome response.
    But the pilot might put the code in if hijacked, what happens between the hijacker and the pilot then will only reveal itself over the course of the flight. The Typhoons would have checked them out to see what the possible situation is likely to turn out as and make a decision on what to do.

    As for targets, as moggy mentioned GCHQ and other potential targets in the area.

    A more likely scenario, is a lightish a'c on a remote farm strip loaded with a ton of explosive which takes a selected route towards a likely target at 500 hundred feet or less. If anyone sees it coming, I'll be more than amazed.
    The helicopter, if I recall correctly was from Aintree. Helicopters can and do land in some pretty unusual places that planes can't. Why use a farm strip when you can use a chopper in the middle of nowhere out of sight?

    As for low flying, theres lots of NIMBY's that are pretty much ready to call up the local airport or police station to report anything flying over their house at any altitude. Flying around at 500ft might catch the attention of alot of people, not just NIMBY's, though.
    Y.N.W.A

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Green View Post
    No would-be hi-jacker will advertise his/her presence by squawking emergency. That is inviting an unwelcome response.


    John Green
    They wouldn't...the pilot would without the knowledge of the hijackers hopefully.

    That's the idea of squawking a code rather that spouting it across the airwaves on radio

    The media and public over reacted, given the code squawked the emergency security response was the correct thing to do.

    The very fact that it is perceived that an attack like 911 is not likely to happen possibly makes it more likely to happen simply because it stands a better chance of success if folks think it would never happen so don't pay too much attention.

    To be effective security has to be in place for any event anywhere.

    Not nice and certainly not what I wish to see...or pay for, but sadly a necessity of reality nowadays.

    The bottom line is...a helicopter squawked "Hijack"...what else were they supposed to do?

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    Re 21

    You're imagining that the pilot and hi-jacker are two people. They could be one and the same. In which case he/she won't advertise their presence.

    I said that a repeat of 9/11 is UNLIKELY to be repeated within these SHORES for sound logistical and security reasons.

    What was required was a proportionate investigation not some Hollywood style posturing via sonic booms !

    What is this contemporary obsession with exaggeration ? It seems that everything has to be more, bigger and louder. Does no one anymore understand that understatement more effectively makes the point?


    John Green

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Green View Post
    Re 21
    ......
    What was required was a proportionate investigation not some Hollywood style posturing via sonic booms !
    .....

    John Green
    And while you investigate, the threat turns out to be true but it's too late, they've already flown their craft into their intended target by the time you get any kind of prevention mechanism mobilised.

    Well done John, you just killed 600 people.

    You should listen to what you're proposing. It's rediculous at best. Totaly insane at worst.
    Bmused55

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    Personal attacks are not tolerated as you well know

    Moggy
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    Last edited by Moggy C; 19th April 2012 at 13:06.

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    I said that a repeat of 9/11 is UNLIKELY to be repeated within these SHORES for sound logistical and security reasons.
    To be fair, security isn't exactly water tight.
    You only have to look at previous topics on here that related to Urban explorers getting airside at various airfields and didn't get caught by security. If they can do it I guess others can too.

    And while you investigate, the threat turns out to be true but it's too late, they've already flown their craft into their intended target by the time you get any kind of prevention mechanism mobilised.
    Yep, bemused sums it up quite nicely with that quote.
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    Seems to me that a big bang, creating lots of news, is just what the government needs to demonstrate how well they're protecting us against the 'terrorist threat'.

    I can only guess at the actual cost of the operation, let's say £25k per hour for these aeroplanes, so for a minimal investment the government has created a puplicity coup for themselves - bags of publicity showing how we can all sleep safely in the knowledge that they're on the case...
    The reason there is so little crime in Germany is that it's against the law.

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    I don't think it was a demonstration of any sort.

    There is a heightened state of alert over and above the present nor due to the forthcoming Olympics

    A helicopter sent a hijack code and the authorities reacted to that in the way they have been set up and trained to do

    It is a simple as that.

    The fact the code was sent by mistake is irrelevant.

    As I said above...just what were they supposed to do?

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    As GarryR has said, I don't think they really had any other choice in the circumstances. However I'm inclined to think as John G has suggested that they made sure they made the most out of it to get the message out to any would be terrorists.
    Having said that was it the authorities that have made a fuss or was it the press themselves that were just having a field day? I don't seem to recall this sort of interest in scrambles during the cold war. I presume F4's went supersonic over land when scrambled?

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    I did mention in a much earlier that it was possible that it was used by the authorities to show there were on the ball so to speak...But I'm not so sure they themselves would have had to put any effort into that.

    I would think that media hype played a large part.

    They were even going on about what sonic booms were and almost making it sound like War Of The Worlds.

    I would think the security forces just did their job and the media and the public did the rest.

    As ATR says, this sort of heightened scramble went on for years and it was just a part of life.

    Nowadays they like to make the biggest thing they can out of nothing to fill the news.

    Whether they did or not doesn't really matter as this only happened because there was a perceived threat and as far as they knew at the time a real threat.

    It is useful and perhaps to know that a quick response was forthcoming

    As for cost to the taxpayer, if none of this happened and they dismantled the extra high security saving millions, you won't see any reductions in you tax bill or a refund.

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    Just a few (of that rare breed) facts, to put this incident in perspective.

    The pilot of the helicopter in question did not 'dial up' an incorrect transponder code. A faulty transponder sent out the spurious message.

    The helicopter was at the time in direct radio communication with a nearby airport. (I have spoken to the manager of the facility that was talking to him at the time).

    It seems that when the 'scramble' was initiated no-one had thought to contact any local airports to see whether they were handling such traffic.

    I hope that as well as a discussion on awaking the great British public from their post lunch slumbers, a part of any review might just touch on the safety implications of firing a pair of fast jets, low level and at ten miles a minute, right through the middle of VFR airspace across the heart of the UK, which was no doubt occupied by other aircraft at the time?

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