One ‘heli’ of a surprise

THANK YOU: The print of the Apache from 656 squadron
THANK YOU: The print of the Apache from 656 squadron

At the start of April, Mr and Mrs Park of Sunnyside Home Farm, Maryculter had a few unexpected guests on their land.

An Army Air Corps Apache helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in their field while taking part in NATO’s Operation Joint Warrior training exercise.

GUESTS: The Para's chowing down

GUESTS: The Para's chowing down

Kevin Park said: “My wife and I were in the house and we could hear a helicopter, which isn’t uncommon but it was very noisy and was flying very low.

“I looked out the window and saw the Apache. I knew right away that it wasn’t an offshore chopper or one of the private ones we sometimes see because of the radar dish above the rotor blades.

“I spotted another Apache in the air flying near it and then the first one started to descend, flew across the road and came down in the field, so I followed it over and spoke to the pilots.”

Aberdeen International Airport was put on full alert, after the Apache AH MK 1 developed difficulties shortly after taking off from RAF Leuchars but the helicopter crew made the decision to get the attack helicopter on the ground ASAP.

Shortly after Kevin had spoken to the pilots and offered them refreshments, a Chinook troop transport helicopter landed with supplies and a detachment from the Parachute Regiment who set up camp and a perimeter to guard the aircraft, which cost an estimated £30 million.

The AgustaWestland Apache is a licence-built version of the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter for use by the British Army’s Army Air Corps (AAC) and is equipped with and M230 Chain Gun, and Hellfire missiles.

It has seen service with ISAF during operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

The Para’s and Apache crew were treated to some of the Park’s home made produce in the three days spent at Sunnyside and Kevin played host to the elite soldiers and aircrew as if they were any other guests.

As a show of thanks the Officer Commanding of 656 Squadron AAC presented the Parks with a framed print of the Apache MK 1, with a plaque reading: “Your kindness is not forgotten.”

The crew signed the print and gave their thanks.

One of the Apache Pilots said: “Please accept a heartfelt thank you from both of us, the crew and our ground assistants for the outstanding hospitality you showed us during our ‘unplanned’ stay in Aberdeenshire. All the best, Dave.”