Cutting through the chopper mystery

If you’ve just been visiting Fife for the first time over the last week or so, you could be forgiven for getting an odd impression of the place.

This last wee while we’ve not only seen a huge increase in the amount of military aircraft in the skies above the Kingdom, but also a massive amount of late-night noisy flights low over homes.

A Chinook lands on Inchkeith

A Chinook lands on Inchkeith

If you’d just set foot in the Kingdom to find the skies full of choppers, you might be inclined to think it’s always like that.

Take it from a local: It’s not.

To many of us though, it does seem unbelievably cool, especially when it was revealed that troops are being dropped and collected from Inchkeith.

Finding out what’s going on is never easy. Our first calls from the concerned public were about the sound of low-flying choppers during the night. People were actually being woken in the night by helicopters hovering low over their homes at 2am, or loud bangs coming from the Forth.

the Chinook landing on the island

the Chinook landing on the island

And people say nothing interesting ever happens round here!?

We were able to rule out the police and coastguard fairly early, but things took a suspicious turn when we put in a call to the Ministry of Defence.

An RAF man initially laughed at me when I first called up to ask if they had any choppers in use in the area.

He insisted that he wouldn’t be able to help with anything unless I could show him pictures of the aircraft: “Those ‘helos’ could be anybody’s. I don’t know if we’ve got any flying around Scotland.”

I calmly repeated to him that the flights in question had been in the black of night, so photos were unlikely. I added that if the MoD didn’t know anything about military choppers over British airspace, then it would make for an even better story.

In this job, when a press office try to put down a story or mock your efforts, you know you’re on the right track, so I nearly cheered when he patronisingly referred to me as “Champ”.

None-the-less, he vowed to look into it.

Meanwhile, the public were clearly getting behind our initial story online. Eyewitness accounts, pictures, and even video clips came flooding in from our loyal readership.

By the way, if we didn’t use your comments in our story, apologies, but we really did get more than we bargained for.

But, perhaps inevitably in this day and age, there were the doubters.

In these fast-paced times, everyone has a social media account, and indeed opinion.

There were a few calls of “How is this news? We’ve all seen a helicopter.”

Well, let’s look at that, shall we?

If, to you, normality involves continued low-flying military helicopters and transports buzzing your house for hours at a time during the night, punctuated by the occasional loud bang as troops are deployed, then you probably live in a war zone.

So when you ask ‘is this news?’, the answer, without a doubt, is ‘damn right it is’.