back to article Did MoD chopper buzz sunbathing au pair?

An Eastbourne couple has claimed in London's High Court that a Ministry of Defence (MoD) helicopter wrecked their award-winning conservatory while the crew attempted to "communicate" with a sunbathing au pair. According to the Telegraph, Barry and Anna George's glass outhouse at The Old Stables in Mead Street - which "won an …


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  1. Alastair Dodd
    Black Helicopters


    That is still way too high for any significant downdraught - it will dissipate to a light breeze at that distance - unless the award winning atrium was badly build/designed a helicopter at 200ft would be no more damage it than a strong wind would.

    And the Au pair isn't a witness? not a shock. Throw it out of court - stupid case.

  2. Rob
    IT Angle


    £250,000 to oggle at some foreign birds... cheaper to go to 'Dam on your R&R weekend surely ;)

  3. Paul R
    Paris Hilton

    Come on

    Even at around 100ft, I doubt the downdraft would be that strong, and if the conservatory was unable to withstand even that, then there is no way that the structure could be considered safe and needed to be demolished anyway.

    Besides, good on the fly-boys for their 'mis-use' of military hardware to spy on sunbathing beauties.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I blame the architect

    Maybe the architect of said poncey conservatory should have spent a little less time trying to redefine the glass centric spatial paradigm(™) and more time doing some basic strength calculations?

    Then he would have been more prepared for the 'getting owned by a huge military helicopter' design case.

  5. Hedley Phillips

    New super powerful helicopter

    Wow, this must have been an amazingly powerful super new black hawk helicopter that the MOD have if it managed to wreck a conservatory at 500ft from downdraft alone.

    I wonder how it lands without smashing the concrete runway?

    Maybe they are using alien lizard technology.

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  7. Kane
    Paris Hilton

    How do they know?

    <Quote>James Maxwell-Scott, for the MoD, countered that a "helicopter flying at 500ft or above simply could not have caused the damage".</Quote>

    Fine, but how do they know that it could not have caused the damage? Is this something the manufacturers test for? Do they have open fields of sunbathing au pairs next to large conservatories set up just for that purpose? And how do I get that job?


    Paris Hilton angle? Or maybe she's the sunbather....

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Weak headline

    I reckon it should have been:

    "Giant MOD chopper batters elderly man's erection"

    This is El Reg, after all!

  9. Joe

    Who pays again ?

    250 grand ! peanuts compared to the lawers invoice. Which the tax payer is footing either way it goes. I think I saw the lawyer last week in the ferrari showroom.

    If you needed to know what happened why didn't they pull the black box after the complaint. Or better still, have a look in the media folder of the pilots' mobile camera phone ;-)

    Good on yer boys!

  10. Lloyd


    until someone starts providing photos of the said au pair I can't possibly give an opinion. Although she will of course need to be wearing the same clothes as she was at the time of the alleged incident!

  11. Bill Fresher

    Gust of wind

    If the atrium was so flimsy who's to say it wasn't the au pair who blew it down with a bottom burp?

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  13. daniel
    Black Helicopters

    500 ft

    The au pair girl managed to see the pilots "communicating" with her from 500ft away? Bloody good eyes I say.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why should taxpayers pay?

    If the helicopter is found to have been responsible why on earth should the taxpayer (i.e. me) pay? Surely the failure of the duty of care was with the crew and they should be personally liable?

    Isn't the law of tort fun? :-)

  15. cor

    So.... this 250-grand damage bill...

    .... would that be a *conservative* guess?

    <coat donned>

  16. Frank Bough
    Black Helicopters

    Blow job

    I was down in St Ives last month and we were buzzed by an RN Sea King while on the beach. They were mucking about (OK 'search and rescue-ing') at less than 200ft and - while noisy - there were no cataclysmic downdrafts to worry about. It was all good fun. Frankly, and structure built near the coast should be able to handle a typical British howling winter gale, so quite how the downdraught from a far off Merlin would be a problem is perplexing.

  17. Parax
    Black Helicopters

    Was it Black?

    I demand to know the colour of the mischevious Merlin..

    I still like the name EH101 though, a typo from EHI 01 European Helicopter Industries first chopper.

    at 14 tonnes I would expect a very significant down draft.... it aint no Bell JR or Robinson.

  18. Graham Bartlett

    Not just downdraft

    If it *was* the helicopter, chances are that the problem wasn't the downdraft itself but the stones, grit and bits of tree blown around by it. Even so, it'd need to be a lot lower than 500ft to do anything significant.

  19. Dave

    blow job chopper shock horror probe

    If down draft from 500ft wrecked glass house how the flinking blip do the troops get in and out of the machine when it is parked on the ground of the battlefield rotors a-whirlin and a-turnin?

    Oh! they wait until the aircraft has come to a complete halt and the ground crew have put the steps in place?


  20. cor

    Downdraught : blowing it out yer ass

    In the line of my previous profession (non military) I was a regular user of various 'choppers from 4 seater Bells to huge Sikorsky 61s (Seakings). On many occasions I have stood diagonally under these things as they took off or landed. It is very unlikely that a downdraught could cause enough pressure to damage a normally healthy glass structure. If anything it could have been the resonance from the low-frequency 'beat' of the chopper. They can be quite deafening in close proximity. The 28ft artrium probably couldn't handle the noise.

    But a downdraught is fairly unlikely cause, at any altitude.

  21. Don

    Green Parker

    MODs ride Lambrettas not choppers!

    Coat for one please.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    new headline

    "au pair sees 14 ton chopper, blown from 500ft"

  23. Luke Wells

    500ft or less

    Surely the helicopter was at less than 500ft or how were they managing to communicate with the au pair?

    I think that they need to find out if the helicopter did drop below 1000ft without permission, and if so then they liable really

  24. Perry

    Noise not wind

    I'd go along w/ cor on this one. It is possible that, given a large enough heli, the noise of the chopper blades (thus the "chop") caused the glass to resonate and break. I'd also agree that at a certain height they would also throw around debris which couldn't help the matter any. It is also damn hard to tell how high up something like a helicopter is just by taking a look at it (especially from below). If you asked 5 people i'm sure you'd get answer from 100ft all the way to 2000ft depending on the POV and the density of said observers head.

  25. Chris Hill
    Black Helicopters

    Glass blower

    It doesnt really matter if the damage was caused by the downdraft, stones/branches/pets being thrown about in the wind, the SPL of the engines or a accidentally dropped digital camera with images of a certain au-pair on its memory card. If they dropped below 1000ft and the damage happened while they were below that altitude above the house - with no other viable reason for the damage evident - they have to be liable.

    Wouldn't the MoD have liability insurance too? yes, ok, taxpayers will foot the bill for the insurance premium but we'd be paying that anyway

  26. Luther Blissett

    cor is likely correct

    Not downdraught but acoustic resonance. The pilot will admit, under questioning, that the object was to blow away the au pairs clothing, but the MoD will argue noone could have known that helicopters' low frequencies might cause structural failure, as it doesn't happen often. (Actually it does, every time there is an earthquake, but pilots are not expected to be boffins). The MoD will be found not guilty. Snafu. Voyeuring and aborting and stampeding sheep and cattle will continue, and you can guess the Daily Mail's editorial stance. I would try an action against the architect.

  27. Matthew Barker
    Black Helicopters

    14 tons?

    I couldn't find any reg units for it, but that's far bigger and heavier than the average "eye in the sky" news helicopter!

    That's as heavy as 2 20-year-old volvo automobiles.

  28. Andy

    It's a lawyer thing

    Maybe it was 20ft. But if they said that they would have to prove it.

    All they have to prove is that it was under 1000ft. 500 is a nice round number.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    SAR Seakings often pass over my house below 500 ft and never had any problems. Some years ago they used to drop off one of the MRT at his house across the road, landing just behind his house.

    It sounds like a poorly designed or built structure.

  30. R M Crorie

    Re: Why should taxpayers pay?

    The Crown self-insures... they don't have any liability insurance at the MoD for this sort of thing...

    The "non-departmental public bodies" and "arm's-length" agencies do, of course, have to have insurance because they aren't Crown bodies. But even some (most?) of the organisations and bodies that used to enjoy Crown immunity don't any more. Not that I'm arguing that they should, actually my thoughts are that they shouldn't, for the obvious reason that - in general - it doesn't encourage a responsible approach to risk management.

    And of course now that we live in a society that is so litigious, and which is also overwhelmed by the "compensation culture", it is unfortunately not a surprise to read about cases like this - not that I'm prejudging it, of course... :-)

  31. the Jim bloke
    Black Helicopters

    this entire article

    is just a troll to get some mileage out of the helicopter icons.

    Does Reg get payed on usage of them ?

    It doesnt say much for MoD black-helicopter technology, that they had to get within 500ft of the target... unless they had already fully "scoped her out", and were moving in to make contact.

  32. Schoofs
    Thumb Up

    How not to catch a foreign au pair

    Perhaps they were trying to winch the au pair up into the helo but the hook caught the atrium? Must be quite a suprise to see an atrium coming up to you instead of an au pair using bold body language!

  33. Douglas Norton

    Low enough to blow her clothes off

    Who said she was wearing any clothes in the first place?

  34. Brett Brennan

    Personal experience with this...

    I used to live on the Colorado river in north-west Arizona (USA). The US Army occasionally flies terrain-following heli missions down the river (the river is about 100m wide and has 8-10m banks at this point - nicely hides helicopters visually and acoustically). The helis (usually Apaches or Blackhawks) would pass the back of my house at a distance of about 75m and roughly on the same level. While I never sustained any damage from the rotor tip shock wave, the plate glass windows along the back of the house rattled enough to bring me running. Had they been closer than 50m, there is a good chance that there would have been some damage to the windows. The sound of the shock wave hitting the glass (at under 100m) was like that of a towel-wrapped stone lobbed at the glass - a nice solid BANG! each time.

    Also, these were not some custom-fitted glass, but standard patio sliding panels - about 2m tall and 1m wide, mounted in aluminum frames with rubber gaskets holding the glass. Had these been "hard" mounted (ie, hardened glazing putty in a rigid metal frame), it might have been possible to cause breakage.

    So, if the MoD *DID* do the damage, just how close and at what attitude would the helicopter have to be in order to cause it? Unless the helicopter was flying at near ground level and 50m or less away, and for more than a few seconds, I would certainly be having a stern discussion with the builder and the architect.

    Just me nickel's worth...I'll get the coat now...

  35. Stuart Castle Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    Someone trying it on?

    For a start if that helicopter was 500ft up, the downdraft it would have created shouldn't be enough to do any damage. If the conservatory fell down or was damaged by the helicopter, tbh, I'd have been worried to sneeze near it.

    Second: £250K for a conservatory? What was it built from? Gold? Probably not, it would have stayed up. Obviously, it is a claim for compensation, but surely £230K for compensation (being generous and allowing £20K for rebiulding costs) is a little excessive. I am fairly certain our legal system doesn't currently embrace the concept of punitive damages (which is actually why legal settlements in the US are often high, because their legal system does), although I am happy to be proved wrong.

    Wouldn't mind seeing the Aupair though.

  36. lglethal Silver badge

    missing the big picture

    Everyone's missing the big pic here - £250,000 to repair a few broken windows! Damn for that money i'll learn how to be a window fitter!!!

    @ Brett Brennan - Big difference from your example, the heli's flying past your window were putting out shock waves almost in line with your windows (ie horizontally along the blade crashing straight into your windows.), these waves are not normally felt on the ground. The only way for the same shock waves to have any affect at an object below the helicopter is if there flying at a 90 degree angle... perhaps trying to get a better view of the au pair?

    I wonder if the au pair was fired for her role in the destruction of the atrium? Perhaps if the lawsuit against the MoD fails they can try suing her for inciting an act which led to property destruction! :P

  37. Alan Donaly
    Paris Hilton


    A couple of days ago I was buzzed by a CH-47 Chinook at treetop and didn't feel a thing on the ground didn't really blow any dust up the trees waved in the breeze and I could see the Pilot just fine so I find this whole story a bit hard to believe. If you see something you like it's hard not to take a closer look(or damn near impossible in some cases).

  38. Edward Rose

    If they were below 1000ft they're liable....

    WHAT? What world do the couple of people claim this live in?

    So, If I'm caught speeding, the police can do me for the death of anyone that may have been killed through excessive speed on that road? I recommend you put the drugs back in the draw boys.

    If they were flying against regulations it is up to the appropriate authorities (their CO) to give them a good hard spanking (which is all they'll get).

    If these rather suspicious sounding people (or should I reserve judgement?) want compo, they should prove* that the helicopter actually damaged an otherwise sound building. *Law may just want suitable suspicion, not sure.

    That said, the costs could also include damaged plants, not just glass work.

  39. ChrB
    Paris Hilton

    Where's the pic?

    At 250 grand, the paxpayer has a right to know what caused the flurry!

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