Some of you may have heard the Veritair helicopter arrive at White Horse Farm yesterday, bang on time at 5.00pm.  But I think most residents of Osmington and Sutton Poyntz will have heard it today!

It might seem like a simple task to run a helicopter back and forward – lifting bags and dropping them off – but a lot has been involved in getting this right. White Horse farm is a working farm so a crucial factor for Paul Critchell was to get the cattle away from the helicopter zone and the horses safely stabled to avoid being upset. So a big thank you to Paul and all involved for getting all that sorted.

So lots of folk were up earlier than me – but the frost was still thick on the ground as I walked across the fields at 8.15, just as the pilot fired up the helicopter to defrost it. For those interested in such things, the helicopter is a Messerschmitt Bolkow Blohm 105 dating from 1980. It is powered by two Rolls-Royce turbines and Wesley, the pilot, told me that it is the “Land Rover” of helicopters. I have to say that having seen it in action today, it is very impressive!

I made the usual climb and was ready to take photographs when they got going at about 9.15.  Having experienced the sand-blasting from the Sea King, I was ready with hard hat, ear defenders and safety glasses – though my poor cameras had no protection. After a few quite tentative runs, Wesley got the hang of the wind and updraft on the hill and Dave, the hooker-on got settled into the hard graft of running about on the Horse. The projected four minute turn round was soon closer to 3 minutes and the Horse began to lose its “dipped in paint” look.

I had to return home at 11.00 and as I walked back an hour later, I was astonished at the progress. They were refueling as I headed towards the Horse and so I waited for the long shot photo. I was lucky that Geoff Codd chose that moment to appear by the King’s head and so I could get the shot of him looking over the helicopter. He looked justifiably proud – having spent a huge amount of time on driving this project forward.

My third visit today was at about 4.00pm and by then there were 100 bags (of the 187) shifted. I was going to take more photos from below (I couldn’t face climbing the Horse for the third time!) but the wind had changed and the flight-path now crossed the best vantage points, so I left them to it.

I have to say that I felt a huge sense of satisfaction in seeing the scalpings heading south. There are still a lot to bag and remove over the next couple of weeks – and a lot of work to do – but it really feels like we are making progress and I, for one, think King George would have approved……not to mention his horse……….

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