The Anonymous Widower

Shooting Down A US Heavy Helicopter

About twenty years ago, I heard a story, how an engineer at Cambridge University, programmed a computer to recognise the Duke of Edinburgh’s voice.

I have also read about smart mortars, that look for something big, metallic and making a lot of noise and if it appears to be a tank, they hit it.

Last night, I was woken by the distinctive noise of President Obama’s helicopter as it flew over East London from Stansted. The noise is just so distinctive.

How long will it be before someone parks a missile on a roof with a smart guidance system, looking for a distinctive noise signature in the sky?

April 22, 2016 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

Did The Design Of The Clutha Bar Make Rescue Difficult?

I found this article on the BBC’s web site, which postulates that the building hampered rescue work in the Glasgow helicopter crash. Here’s the first paragraph.

The recovery operation at the Glasgow pub where a helicopter crashed was hampered by the building’s design, according to a senior fire officer.

But if you read the article, you’ll see that the building hadn’t been built as a bar and had been converted.

Obviously, helicopters don’t land on buildings every day, so to design every building to be able to sustain the fall of a three-tonne weight onto the roof, is probably far too expensive.

But other catastrophes can happen and was the building designed well enough to not trap people in say a fire or gas explosion?

We should make sure, we take  note of all the lessons from this crash.

December 5, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Not Get Paranoid about Helicopter Accidents Over Cities

We’ve now had two serious helicopter accidents over cities in the UK in the current year. The first at Vauxhall in January wasn’t as serious as Friday’s in Glasgow, but there are similarities.

Both occurred in city centres close to their landing sites and were operated by probably professional companies and flown by experienced pilots.

So how common are these sort of accidents?

Look at this list of helicopter accidents on Wikipedia.  Only two seemed to have involved helicopters falling to the ground over cities, in countries with a good record of aviation safety. One was in Auckland, New Zealand and the other was in Phoenix in the United States. Both of these accidents, involved collisions, which could also be said about the Vauxhall accident.

I get helicopters, operated by the Metropolitan Police and the London Air Ambulance over my house all the time.

But am I worried that one will drop out of the sky on me?

No! I think the odds are more likely that a stray vehicle will hit me on a zebra crossing!


December 1, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Cromwell Tower In The Mist

I took this picture yesterday, a couple of hours after the helicopter crashed in Vauxhall.

Cromwell Tower In The Mist

Cromwell Tower In The Mist

Helicopters over London, have to fly under what are known as Visual Flight Rules. In layman’s language you must be able to see where you are going.

The visibility yesterday wasn’t good. I have flown fixed wing aircraft in such conditions and it is not easy.  But the difference with a fixed wing aircraft is that you can use instruments to climb through the cloud and get on top of the muck. Provided of course you have the flight ratings to do it, which I had and the airspace rules allow it.

Sometimes the best decision you can take when flying any aircraft is to push it back in the hangar.


January 17, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment


As a trained pilot, I’ve never liked helicopters and for fifty years, I’ve avoided going in the beasts, which have been variously described as.

Four thousand moving parts flying in a unique formation.

Often by pilots, who know a lot better.

So although only two or three seemed to have died in the latest helicopter crash at Vauxhall, this is two or three too many to add to the list of those who’ve died in similar circumstances.

There is a great exhilaration to fly at a low level and I’ve done it several times at under a thousand feet over a city. But only in a twin-engined aircraft, with myself at the controls. The best was probably to fly up Lido in Venice to land at the San Nicolo airport. I did once use the light-aircraft corridor over Heathrow, that probably doesn’t exist now. Exhilarating stuff, but sadly they are only memories in my brain, as I didn’t have a camera with me.

In some ways, I feel this thrill is one of the reasons we still get large numbers of people wanting to be flown over our cities.  Businessmen and politicians will quote the time saved in getting in and out of Central London, but is any death worth it?

We still don’t know what caused the problem, but the building hit at Vauxhall will be nearly 600 feet tall. I also question, why a building that high is being built close to the Battersea Heliport.

Flying in a helicopter is a risky business and you need to minimise what risks you can, rather than add to them!

There is a professional view of flying in the area here in the Standard. It’s also being reported that the Metropolitan Police helicopter was not flying because of the weather.

One of my ambitions amongst many is to live long enough to see the end of the these scientifically-incorrect machines. Hopefully, their jobs will be replaced by something a lot less dangerous and more civilised and environmentally friendly.

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

The Olympics Cut Crime In London

Figures show that crime fell by five percent during the Olympics.  Read all about it, here in the Daily Telegraph.

On a similar vein, the BBC in London has just announced that London Ambulance had a quiet time.  Come to think of it, I’ve only seen the Air Ambulance once in the last couple of weeks. It tends to pass over, where I live.

In fact, although I’m not that far from the Olympic Park, I have hardly seen any helicopters at all; police, military, ambulance or otherwise.

Let’s hope it continues. I’m not bothered about the noise, but it just means that crime and serious accidents are a a low level.

August 14, 2012 Posted by | Health, News, Sport | , , | Leave a comment