45 minutes; 2 brushes with death

45 minutes; 2 brushes with death

It has come to light that the Duchess of Cornwall’s one-winged chariot was forced to veer twice to avoid mid-air collisions during a nightmare helicopter ride from Sandringham to her Wiltshire home.

The chopper was travelling at 150mph when the pilot found himself within just nine seconds from crashing head-on with an aircraft carrying parachutists.

An air traffic controller at RAF Marham, Norfolk, who was monitoring the flight, told investigators the collision risk had been “high”.

Just six minutes after the helicopter took off, RAF Marham air traffic control saw a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 had taken off from Skydive Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.

The pilot of the DHC claims he had forgotten to alert RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, as it was “his eighth flight that day”.  “Distracted by passengers in the back”, the DHC-6 pilot also failed to respond to RAF Lakenheath’s “numerous” attempts to contact him.

At which time a controller at RAF Marham said to a counterpart at Lakenheath: "Okay if you can keep trying to call him because he's now about to burst the bubble, he's within five miles and 3,000ft unless coordinated."

That’s when RAF Marham warned the duchess’ copter that the DHC-6 was approaching at 110mph, enabling her pilot to raise his altitude to 5,400ft and veer right to avoid collision. 

But no sooner had one disaster been avoided than the chopper was forced to complete a desperate emergency maneuver 45 minutes later at 161mph to avoid a random glider at 1,800ft!

The pilot said he was fortunate to have spotted the glider half a mile away as he 'had been flying into the sun'.

According to UK Airport Board reports, both incidents happened on July 25 last year after Camilla and Prince Charles had visited the Sandringham Flower Show.

While Buckingham Palace has declined to comment we’re taking our hats off to the Royal pilot – doubtless the poor chap had thought he was in for a routine drop off.