Hampshire Police and Lee-on-Solent

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The arrival of the new Defender to Lee-on-Solent in 2001

Hampshire Constabulary - Hampshire Police Air Support Unit
The Hampshire Police Air Support Unit currently occupies the "watch-tower" and is responsible for control of air traffic at Lee on Solent, it also operates a surveillance aircraft. In the past - police used the airfield for quite different activities - instructors trained police on the runway with police cars of the Daedalus naval airfield encompassing fast-driving techniques.

The airfield has been the base for the Hampshire Police Air Support Unit since 1985. In 1987, the Authority agreed that the Hampshire Constabulary should operate a full-time Air Support Unit staffed by three pilots and two full-time observers supplemented by additional observers for the summer months.  The staff for the air support unit came from within the Police Authorised Establishment.

Activities are focused on valuable observation and photographic work. The main tasks also includes search (particularly in open areas), surveillance, traffic and patrol. Until recently it used Edgeley Aircraft Limited Optica Scout 1985-1990, and subsequently from 1990 it used an Britten-Norman Islander spotter plane (PBN-2B-26 Islander (the noisy version) G-HPAA. The Islander maintained special equipment from 1993: AGEMA/Leo 400 gyro stabilised camera platform in nose, with TI camera and hi-resolution daylight TV camera.

Optica aircraft

Aviation activities started in 1987. For six months in 1987, the Police Authority, in partnership with the Home Office, carried out evaluation trials of the Optica Scout Aircraft at HMS Daedalus, Lee-on-Solent by arrangement with the Royal Navy.  Full pilot and observer training was carried out.  The Authority have received a detailed presentation on the valuable observation and photographic work which can be done using a fixed-wing aircraft like the Scout.  The main tasks to which it is suited are search (particularly in open areas), surveillance, traffic and patrol, and considerable savings can be made in the time of officers on the ground through effective use of the aircraft.

Ref: The Optica Scout Aircraft. Hants county Council

Islander aircraft

Into the 21st century, the Home Office approved a subsidy for new aircraft and a Defender 4000 on order with serial G-SCJH. The aircraft is named after former Chief Constable Sir John Hoddinott and bears his initials.  B-N Islander was then due to be sold to Cheshire. The first flight of the new aircraft would be on 21 December, 2000, when it would fly to Bournemouth for painting.  The plane would be available on 3 and 4 January, 2001 at Lee-on-Solent for Members to view.

On 26 February 2001 the Chairman of Britten-Norman Group, Mr Alawi Zawawi, handed over the keys of a new Defender 4000 aircraft to Hampshire Police Authority Chairman, Councillor Ron Culver, and the Hampshire Police Chief Constable, Paul Kernaghan, at a ceremony at HMS Daedalus, Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire, UK. The Authority is paying £1.3 million in addition to their existing B-N Islander, which has been taken in part exchange for the Defender. This Defender 4000 will provide Hampshire Police with a facility which is understood to be the most sophisticated and best equipped aircraft, in respect of speed, fuel consumption and low noise considerations, held by any police force in the country.

Ref: Replacement of Police Aircraft (ref T A Meeting of the Hampshire Police Authority held at The Castle, Winchester on 20 April, 1999.) Confidential report of the Chief Constable (Item 11 in the Minute Book)

Ref: MEETING of the HAMPSHIRE POLICE AUTHORITY held at The Castle, Winchester on Tuesday 21 November, 2000

Ref: Police Operations in Rotor Hub News

Aircraft of the Hampshire Police Air Support Unit
Edgeley Aircraft Limited Optica Scout ( manufacturers, the Brookland Aircraft Company) 1985-1990
G-KATY - Optica Scout for trials, crashed 1985
G-BMPF - Optica Scout for trials, spare from 1987
G-BMPL - Optica Scout owned and operated 1987-1990

Britten-Norman Islander 1990-2001
G-TWOB - PBN BN-2 Islander  1990-1991.
G-HPAA - PBN BN-2B-26 Islander c/n 2244 from December 1991, 'Boxer 3. G-HPAA Islander to Lee on Solent ex PAS. 1999

Britten-Norman Defender 2001-
G-HPAG - PBN BN-2T Defender 4000

Ref:Aeroflight UK Emergency Services: Hampshire Police aircraft

THE CRASH OF OPTICA G-KATY ON 15TH MAY 1985: Report of the Hampshire Clerk

G-KATY was orbiting the town of Ringwood and during the third (or fourth) orbit was seen to descend slowly from about 800 feet to between 150 and 100 feet, and then to enter a steep, but apparently controlled, turn to the right.  A few seconds later the bank angle suddenly increased to about 90~ and the aircraft spiralled steeply into a wood, destroying the aircraft and killing the crew.  20 to 30 seconds after impact a severe fire broke out.  The death of two experienced serving officers was made more poignant because G-KATY was the first production-model Optica produced by Edgeley Aircraft Limited and was formally accepted by the Hampshire Constabulary on the previous day for the purpose of evaluating the suitability for police purposes (delivery being taken 15 days earlier for training and conversion purposes).  The crew had been tasked with carrying out a photographic survey of the traffic congestion in the area of Ringwood during market day on the 15th May. 
Ref: STSECR 3/f/R046/9/86. HAMPSHIRE POLICE AUTHORITY ITEM 5. 23RD SEPTEMBER, 1986.Report of the Clerk