Lift-off for eye in sky

PUBLISHED: 12:29 23 June 2006 | UPDATED: 21:57 28 May 2010

Pilot Mick Hemingway demonstrates the night sighting equipment  — one of the many features of the new police helicopter.

Pilot Mick Hemingway demonstrates the night sighting equipment — one of the many features of the new police helicopter.

Police in Cambridgeshire sent out a warning to criminals that there is no escape after unveiling their new £3.9million helicopter. The MD902 Explorer has been funded by the county s Police Authority and is the force s eye in the sky, working across Cambridge

Police in Cambridgeshire sent out a warning to criminals that there is no escape after unveiling their new £3.9million helicopter.

The MD902 Explorer has been funded by the county's Police Authority and is the force's eye in the sky, working across Cambridgeshire, Essex and Suffolk.

It boasts some of the most advanced technology including a cutting edge computer mapping system, which allows the crew to pinpoint locations with greater ease.

There is also a sophisticated Wescam camera system, which has superior thermal imaging equipment, a 30million-candle-power searchlight, a public address system and digital video recorders.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hopkins, who formally launched the new helicopter at police headquarters in Huntingdon, said: "The air operations unit is a vital part of the police family and plays an important role in investigations, operations and live incidents across the whole of Cambridgeshire.

"The new helicopter can be utilised in many different ways, from searching for missing and vulnerable people, locating offenders and vehicle follows to surveillance, major incident planning and monitoring public order incidents."

The new aircraft means officers can fly for about two hours without having to refuel and can carry up to eight people, including the pilot and two air observers, compared with five in the old helicopter.

The extra capacity is also useful in supporting MAGPAS, by taking the voluntary emergency medical team direct to the scene of an incident within minutes.

Michael Williamson, Police Authority chairman, said: "The Police Authority is delighted to have provided the funding for the new helicopter, which will prove to be invaluable support in a variety of situations, including searching for missing persons.

"We are sending criminals in Cambridgeshire the message that there is no escape when we have this kind of technology at our disposal.

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