The North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit (NMHSU) is based at the Derbyshire Constabulary HQ at Butterley Hall near Ripley and was the latest aviation unit to be visited by 1359 (Beeston) Squadron.
The visit gave the cadets the opportunity to see up close the Eurocopter EC-135T2 operated by NMHSU, an aircraft which is regularly seen in the skies above Nottingham. The base at Ripley is ideal for the unit as it is central to the four main conurbations it covers, Nottingham and Mansfield in Nottinghamshire and Derby and Chesterfield in Derbyshire. Most locations can be reached within 15 minutes flying time providing a fast response to any incident requiring Police involvement. As well as performing the well known tasks such as tracking stolen cars or searching for individuals the unit can also perform casualty evacuation when necessary.
The visit started off with a briefing on the helicopter and the types of roles performed and a question and answer session with Sgt Christine McQuaid, the Deputy Unit Executive Officer and the cadet’s host on the day. This was followed with a guided tour of the aircraft and the chance to talk to the on-duty crew. Each crew is made up of a pilot and two observers, one of whom acts as tactical commander when on a task. The observers are Police officers who have served their time on the beat and then have applied to become an observer. There is a stringent selection process, as well as needing good Police skills applicants need to have good navigational, map reading and communication skills. The pilots, there are currently three with the unit, are all ex-Army Air Corps and all have a wealth of experience in operating helicopters in similar roles from their time in the military. During a task the pilot has the responsibility for the safety of the aircraft and all on board whilst the tactical commander has responsibility to ensure they provide the best possible support to the police officers on the ground.
The visit gave the cadets a better understanding of a Police asset they are used to seeing overhead and will have given them more appreciation of the role the unit performs. Cadet Corporal Zack Hobson said “I’ve seen the television programmes showing what the Police helicopters do but to see one close up, and meet the crew, was very interesting. We were hoping they would get called out so we could watch it take off but unfortunately that didn’t happen but it was still a good visit.”
Thanks to all the staff at NMHSU for allowing the visit to take place and to Sgt Christine McQuaid for being an excellent host.
1359 (Beeston) Sqn are currently recruiting new cadets. If you are aged 13 or over and are interested in joining please visit www.1359squadron.com for more information on the activities the cadets get up to or ring 0115 9256774 on Tuesday or Thursday evenings between 18:30 and 21:00.
CI Mike Hill
Media and Communications Officer
1359 (Beeston) Squadron