We have lost the plot !

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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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Profile picture for user AutoStick

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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.
Profile picture for user EGTC

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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.
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Is it wise to put the code on an open forum?
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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. John Green
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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.
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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. :rolleyes: :p
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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...

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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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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.

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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?