Helicopter passenger tells of Typhoon jet drama over Bath
By Bath Chronicle | Monday, April 16, 2012, 13:29
A racehorse owner has told how the helicopter he was flying in was targetted by two RAF fighter jets in a scare over Bath.
Typhoon jets over Bath. Picture Megan Michelle Kelland
The Typhoon aircraft flew at supersonic speeds after being told the former military helicopter had issued the sort of distress signal associated with hijackings.
The helicopter – owned by a plant hire firm in Dorset – was taking 47-year-old Anthony Knott home from a race meeting at Aintree when it sparked the drama on Thursday evening.
The two jets created sonic booms as they flew from their base in Lincolnshire and then came low over Bath, amazing local people who watched in astonishment.
The 1973 Gazelle is owned by Buckland Newton Hire and has flown more than 5,000 hours.
It is not clear who was piloting the chopper, but the firm’s Martin Perrett is an experienced pilot.
He declined to comment to The Bath Chronicle today other than to suggest that there had not been a fault with his helicopter.
Mr Knott told the BBC: “The pilot said we were lucky to be alive.
“It was like being in Top Gun or something.
“All of a sudden this plane came from underneath us. The turbulence sucked us round 30 degrees and the pilot said we were lucky to be alive.”
The Ministry of Defence and police say the pilot transmitted the wrong signal by mistake.
Mr Knott, from Sturminster Newton, said the pilot had said that if the helicopter had not been an ex-military one, they would have been dead.
It was the first time Mr Knott had been in the helicopter, and had been with his son and daughter.
He said the plane passed by the helicopter two more times communicating with the helicopter pilot before flying away.
He told the BBC he did not know anything about the emergency signal and had not been able to hear the communication between the two pilots.
He said: “Our pilot was just in shock. He was quite angry and when we landed he went off to find out why it had happened.”