News Section

858 Meet the Longest Arm of the Law

Article posted: Nov 16, 2014 by Sqn Ldr Utting

On Wednesday evening the cadets from Rushden Squadron got up close and personal with the longest arm of the law, X55, call sign of the local Police Helicopter based near Husbands Bosworth.

The cadets and staff of 858 were shown the main ops room where the officers have several radios monitoring several channels in case they hear the call for assistance and also computers that are linked to several forces’ operational centres.

The cadets learnt that the helicopter is no longer controlled by Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire and it is now part of the National Police Air Service (NPAS). Their main control centre is based in West Yorkshire and can call on any one of the 25 aircraft.

The cadets also got an up close and personal look inside X55 and all of the high tech equipment the officers use to find suspects. The cadets also got to view some of the footage that the officers have recorded whilst helping ground units. The most memorable video must have been the suspect of a burglary trying to hide in a wheelie bin. It would have worked if X55 didn’t have a thermal imaging camera and the suspect’s body heat hadn’t turned the wheelie bin in to a thermal beacon!

Captain Richard “Eric” Morecombe who was the pilot on shift that night showed the cadets of 858 that it is not just the RAF that fly. Eric joined the Army Air Corps (AAC) at the tender age of 16 and stayed in for nearly 30 years. Eric first began flying as an observer in the AAC and later earned his wings at the age of 27. Eric completed several tours all over the world including the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo. After he finally retired from the Army he gained his commercial helicopter licence and started flying for NPAS.

In true “tea bar” fashion the Officer in Charge, Flying Officer Colin Harmer, presented the crew of X55 with an 858 Squadron crest to hang in pride of place in their tea room.

Cadet Abbie Robinson commented on how she felt about the visit, “I really enjoyed the visit. It was intriguing to see what equipment they have on-board the helicopters. We got to try the night vision goggles and the cameras that they have on the helicopters as well as watching some of the videos that they have captured. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to do something like this as not everyone gets the chance.”

Rushden Squadron recruit teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 if you are interested feel free to attend the squadron during a parade evening on Monday and Wednesday nights from 7.00p.m till 9.30p.m at the Drill hall on Victoria Road in Rushden. For more information please call (01933) 411383 (Mon & Wed Evenings) or email
In addition we are also seeking Adult Volunteers, aged 20 and above, no previous cadet or military experience required, to assist in providing opportunities to cadets in Rushden. For details please contact Flying Officer Colin Harmer 07803288143.

858 (Rushden) Squadron in front of X55

OiC Flying Officer Colin Harmer presenting 858’s Squadron Crest to Captain Richard “Eric” Morecombe.


Cadet Richardson sat in the observer’s seat while Tactical Flight Officer Andy Smith shows the cadets the navigation equipment.