The Countess of Wessex narrowly escaped what could have been a catastrophic collision when her helicopter almost crashed into a glider. Sophie was a passenger in the AgustaWestland AW109 helictoper, nicknamed Heir Force One, when the pilot was forced to make an emergency turn at 4,400ft to steer away from a glider. The co-pilot had spotted the glider directly ahead of their aircraft, flying in the same direction around three miles east of Cheltenham.
According to the Mail on Sunday, an official report by the UK Airprox Board shows the pilot rated the risk of a collision as "high" after coming as close as 500 yards to the glider. The report also noted that it was unlikely the glider saw the helicopter until it passed and that an air-traffic controller at RAF Brize Norton had not warned the Countess' pilot about the presence of the glider.
Sophie's helicopter almost crashed into a glider in 2017
The report also stated that both the glider and the helicopter pilot "shared an equal responsibility… not to operate in such proximity to other aircraft as to create a collision hazard". The incident took place on 5 July 2017 in the afternoon, after Sophie had watched a farming demonstration in Overbury.
It comes after the Mail on Sunday also revealed this month that the Duchess of Cornwall was involved in two near misses while riding in her royal helicopter. Camilla was travelling from Sandringham Flower Show to her house in Wiltshire on 25 July 2018 when she came close to disaster.
The Countess pictured disembarking one of the helicopters the royal family use
The first near collision occurred when Camilla's royal Sikorsky S76 helicopter almost crashed into another aircraft, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6, carrying parachutists. The two aircrafts had been travelling at a collective speed of 265mph and risk of a collision had been "high," an air traffic controller at RAF Marham, Norfolk said. Around 45 minutes later, while preparing to land, Camilla's helicopter made another emergency manoeuvre at 160mph after fortunately spotting a glider and swerving to avoid them.
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