Friday, 26 November 2010

The death of David Kelly - Information about the helicopter flight

Earlier this week I was given by Thames Valley Police a couple of printouts which relate to the two Chiltern Air Support Unit flights during the early morning of 18th July 2003. This was in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

If anyone would like to be sent a copy of the printouts please email me using the email address described in this post: A contact email address for Chilcot's Cheating Us.

Summary information is as follows:

02.50 The helicopter is called from its previous task (unspecified).

03.20 to 04.05 - The helicopter searches an area which "included bridle paths from Longworth north to the River Thames, east to Newbridge and back south to Kingston Bagpuize". [I made minor edits for clarity.]

04.05 - "Aircraft forced to go to [redacted] for fuel then intending to return to continue search."

04.30 - Helicpter takes off (presumably after refuelling).

04.35 - Helicopter again "on scene".

04.45 - Helicopter leaves scene.

05.10 - Landed (location not specified).

The timings at the end strongly suggest that the helicopter didn't fly to RAF Benson. More credible as a destination is Luton, given the flight time. [RAF Henlow may not have been operating in this context in the relevant part of 2003.]

As Ffrank pointed out in a comment here, a really interesting question is why the helicopter was stood down as it was becoming light.

Surely, in daylight the helicopter crew could see more than at night? So what logical reason could there be for standing the helicopter down at the time stated?

Remember, ACC Page gave the following testimony on the morning of Wednesday 3rd September 2003 on Page 23 and 24:

22 Q. And while they were forming that assessment how many men
23 did you have on the ground searching outwards?
24 A. Ultimately by about 7.30 I had 30 police officers drawn
25 in from other police areas. I had the resources on duty

1 within that police area, which would have been another
2 10.
3 Q. Yes.
4 A. I had the mounted branch on the way from Milton Keynes
5 but they had not yet arrived.
6 Q. You had?
7 A. The mounted branch. Because they obviously give you the
8 ability to cover ground very quickly.

It's bizarre that ACC Page is asking for mounted support "to cover the ground very quickly" while at the same time the helicopter which covers the ground very much faster is stood down.

As part of a rigorous and vigorous Police search, standing the helicopter down at 05.10 makes no sense.


  1. Helicopter on scene for 10 minutes around 4.40: seems like it was being used to ferry someone or something in or out, rather than for searching . Or it did find something?

  2. Felix,

    No record, as far as I could see, of the helicopter finding anything.

    I note that I omitted the letters "ASNT" from the record of the second flight.

    That abbreviation doesn't immediately convey anything to me.

    Any thoughts as to its meaning?

  3. Another FoI request then...(ASNT)

  4. Luton is stated as the destination for the flight in a written answer to a Parliamentary Question here: