I remember visiting Lewes, Guildford, Oxford and Winchester. On arrival, a nominated police observer would climb in and jolly around for a while, then drop him off and we would fly back to base. On the Winchester visit, the observer proudly told us that that the aircraft had followed a mini-cooper down the A34 road, and then called up a patrol car to pull him over for a speed warning. When the driver of the mini complained that he had not seen a chase car, the patrol man just pointed up into the air! On return to base, a small orange cut-out of a mini car was placed near the pilot's door to notch up our 'kill'.
On completion of the trials the aircraft reverted to normal, but I understand that the flight at Netheravon provided some further future and more formal support for the police service in the following years, whilst Police Air Support gathered momentum based on the feasibility trials carried out. As for myself, well, I was finishing with the military, and was close to Hannington. Andy Holdstock offered me a job as a Technician and I started work for the Home Office Directorate of Tels in August 1967.
During my last year or so with the Home Office, before leaving in 2000, I was tasked with another short helicopter trial, this time checking out MASC at UHF. The ranging and height trials took place with Avon and Somerset Police using their purpose fitted All Weather Squirrel aircraft from Filton. This carried a standard aircraft radio system, a police radio system and a number of other items such as powerful lights, an air to ground video, and a GPS. Driven by gas turbines, it was a far cry from the 4-cylinder supercharged petrol engine of the old SIOUX, and a darn sight more comfortable too!
Progress in all directions - but I still think driving one of those things is like learning to ride a bicycle placed on a jelly!
23rd November 2004
Acknowledgement: Brian Hill