Mystery aircraft - surveying, mapping?

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11 years 8 months

Posts: 82

I wonder if anyone here can help me? For the last three days I've been watching a high-flying aircraft continuously flying over the North London / Herts / Lea Valley area. Half the time I can only hear it as a far-off drone, but occasionally it comes into view - at which time I can see that it sometimes seems to fly for a while on a straight course, then makes 180 degree turns and flies back. Sometimes it makes wide circles, and sometimes seems even more random in its course. It's so high that it is initially quite hard to spot with the naked eye, but as it's probably not all that big I find it hard to estimate the altitude. Maybe 3000 metres or so? It was above some of the airliners coming out of the Lambourne stack into Heathrow approach on Saturday. It was intriguing to see how close they would get... I'm not too good at type recognition, but it's a twin engined high-wing type. Looking at it through some fairly weedy birdspotting binoculars I can see that it appears to have a fixed undercarriage, and the wings are slim, untapered and squared-off at the ends. In a search for images on the 'net, I think it looks a bit like a Twin Otter.... Has anybody got any ideas what it is, and what it's doing up there? I'm getting a stiff neck from looking up at it!
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Profile picture for user zoot horn rollo

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14 years 1 month

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Probably one of the Islanders from RAF Northolt Station Flight. Best not to enquire too closely as to what it is up to ;)
Profile picture for user tornado64

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9 years 6 months

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it could possibly be something like greater manchester polices britten norman ( on loan for a search or survielance ) http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/small/3/6/8/1686863.jpg or maybe even an aircraft updating for google earth as google earth is photographed from aircraft ( not sattelites ) as sattelite rendition is too poor !!
Profile picture for user tornado64

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9 years 6 months

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the behaviour you describe is regular in our area by g.m.p's britten norman sometimes it operates high sometimes low see it operating regular here

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19 years 9 months

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I am located not a million miles away from STN and noticed that aircraft also. I am fortunate in having a very powerful set of 'binos' with a zoom to match. The aircraft looked like a Cessna 404 or similar and appeared to have a dark panel/aperture beneath the fuselage centre section. Did not look like an Islander. Hope this helps.
Profile picture for user Newforest

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14 years 6 months

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Not an ash detector?:diablo:
Profile picture for user zoot horn rollo

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14 years 1 month

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Judging by the flight pattern flown it sounds very much like one of the spooky Northolt Islanders on security patrol, possibly in connection with the London Olympic building projects. Is that a knock on the door I hear...?

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13 years 11 months

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Profile picture for user Newforest

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14 years 6 months

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Good work there TJ! :)

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13 years 7 months

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A few years ago, a colleague of mine was flying OS survey flights which involved flying several very accurate gps tracks moving across a few hundred metres each time, generally on clear cloudless days. The so-called satellite views of Google maps etc are obtained in a similar fashion and updated periodically. I think a Cessna 310 was used in the case I recall.

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13 years 11 months

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High wing twin engine with dark fuselage panel will be the American registered Aero Commander equipped with a large format digital camera, so large it will not fit in the Cessna twins.
Profile picture for user EGTC

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10 years 8 months

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I am located not a million miles away from STN and noticed that aircraft also. I am fortunate in having a very powerful set of 'binos' with a zoom to match. The aircraft looked like a Cessna 404 or similar and appeared to have a dark panel/aperture beneath the fuselage centre section. Did not look like an Islander. Hope this helps.
It wasnt G-TASK, was it? Mind you I dont know what the underside looks like on G-TASK. She was flying around the Milton Keynes area on May 22nd. http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/8/3/6/1591638.jpg

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11 years 8 months

Posts: 82

Many thanks for all the responses. Much appreciated. I've started lining the loft with tin foil....... :)