Air Support Unit soars to new heights
11 October 2012
This Saturday, 6 October 2012 saw officers from the Met's Air Support Unit land in Regents Park in a unique opportunity for London residents to meet with the boys and girls who patrol London from the air.
With the help of the event the unit's twitter account @MPSinthesky, reached the dizzy heights of 20,000 followers.
"Our role has changed and grown so much over the years."
Shortly after 10.30hrs the helicopter, India 98, arrived at Cumberland Gate on the east side of Regents Park and it wasn't long before the crew got their first visitors. As numbers climbed to around 500 the crew were grateful to have the support of Special Constables from Parks Police to manage the crowds.
People had come from across London to meet with the crew, some were twitter followers, others were local residents but all were keen to learn more about what makes the crew and the aircraft tick.
Parents brought their children along and many got to see the high tech equipment onboard that helps catch criminals and provides invaluable support to officers on the ground. Some lucky visitors even got to sit in the cockpit.
The visit created a real stir especially in the twittersphere where many visitors posted pictures of the aircraft and the crew along with comments.
Police Sergeant Richard Brandon from the Air Support Unit said: "Our role has changed and grown so much over the years and the unit and the helicopters have changed to meet that role.
"People have always been interested in what we do and earlier this year we started our own twitter account to try and answer some of the many questions we get asked by the public about why we are up over their house or in their area.
He continued: "As interest has grown we thought that it would be a good idea to host an event in central London where the public could see the aircraft and speak to us and it was really popular. In fact it was so well received that our twitter following has soared to well over 20,000. "
The unit currently operates three Eurocopter EC145 helicopters on a 24-hour basis from the air base in Essex, flying an average of over 275 hours per month.
The helicopters are aerial observation and communication platforms and are integral in the Met's fight against crime. Often involved in suspect searches, vehicle pursuits and the search for missing persons they are also used on proactive operations to deter and prevent crime.
Our Pilots, Engineers, Operations Officers and Observers all play an important role in the day to day running of the helicopter unit.
To get an idea of what the unit does on a daily basis follow them on twitter @MPSinthesky or to find out more about the unit click on http://content.met.police.uk/Site/airsupportunit
A selection of twitter comments posted are below:
Had an absolute awesome morning. Thank u for ur time and talking to us.
Cries of "that was AWESOME!" from the children when you took off
Max says thank you for letting him sit in I98 today.
Much excitement at Regents Park with airborne police service on display
Had a great time meeting @MPSinthesky in Regents Park, Harry loved the helicopter!
Superb! Many thanks for organising it :)
Proud to stand next to @MPSinthesky today. A great morning that gave people the chance to see one of the most amazing resources in the Met.