The Ministry of Defence sends its apologies for low-flying MoD helicopters around the town of Whitchurch and has given an explanation. There were an increased number of instances during September and October, as well as earlier in the year. Mr J Green, Air Staff Complaints & Enquiries Unit said,
Please accept our sincere apologies for the disturbance caused …
Unfortunately, there are no uninhabited areas of the UK large enough to meet our essential training needs.
Chinook based at RAF Odiham [are] authorised to conduct a low level training sortie in your general area at heights down to 250 feet above ground level.
The MoD says that our town of Whitchurch is located in ‘Low Flying Area 1’ which is a dedicated area of airspace within a reasonable range of the helicopter base at Odiham, east of Basingstoke and south of Hook.
Training for low-level flying at night time for is an essential part of their operational needs, the MoD says. All night low flying is required to be completed as early as possible and in the case of jets is permitted after 11 p.m. in exceptional cases only.
The low-level flying is required in order for military aircraft to go undetected by highly developed radar systems as they reinforce troops in the field, in places like Afghanistan.
Being vulnerable to ground fire, one of the vital skills which must be acquired by the aircrew is flying as close as possible to the nap of the earth. Low level flying amongst woods, trees and even hedgerows is essential for aircraft to be shielded and camouflaged by the features of the terrain.
More details on the current MoD policy on low flying and how it is carefully controlled and monitored can be found on the MoD website HERE. RAF Odiham information is HERE. The full letter from the MoD to the author of this article is HERE.