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Gyrocopter involved in murder charge

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Gyrocopter involved in murder charge

Old 13th Mar 2009, 21:34
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Birddog

Yes I agree with you about not harassing people, but that is a moral issue not a legal one.

For now the information seems to point to a picture which was taken by a strong lens from a distance well over 1000 feet.

So we do not know (apart from the moral issue) if the pilot, when flying, was outside his legal box.
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Old 13th Mar 2009, 21:59
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Overflying a football field is not illegal even if it is for an entire game provided you stick to the rule of the air.
First - I confess - I'm not a pilot! I have a personal interest in this thread and it has helped many of us to understand a little better what MIGHT have gone wrong at Long Marston which led to the death of a very nice man.

The point which pilots might not appreciate - but which 'that' pilot was VERY aware of - is that most horses are seriously frightened of aircraft of any sort - particularly helicopters and similar craft. It doesn't matter to a horse if its 400 feet above it - or 600 feet - it's a MONSTER! And a terrified horse will bolt, or buck repeatedly while the craft is in its vicinity.

THAT pilot must have known that - he'd been low-flying (400 - 600 - 800 - who knows) for weeks above a number of hunts for the purpose of spying on them. He MUST have seen the reaction of horses to his presence.

I'm fortunate in that my farm is on the Cosford flight path and I get all sorts flying low - choppers, fighters, funny big silent dark things (technical description ) and my horses get used to them PDQ - but visiting horses can go absolutely crazy the first time one flies overhead. Fortunately most of them are going so fast that by the time horse has bucked twice - it's gone! (And with luck. I'm still aboard!) To have a small 'whatever' hovering overhead causes havoc in the hunting field - and IMHO that's its primary purpose.

Whether it was an accident - or murder - time and the courts will decide. But if any of you guys see horses below you when flying, if you can climb a bit it will be much appreciated by folk at risk of landing rather hard!
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Old 13th Mar 2009, 21:59
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Originally Posted by vanHorck
Yes I agree with you about not harassing people, but that is a moral issue not a legal one.
So is noise abatement, but it became a legal issue.

Best to nip these sorts of things in the bud, self regulate if you will, than have the CAA / Government do it for us.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 00:00
  #124 (permalink)  
 
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I am a pilot.
I also happen to not be particularly fond of the "sport" of hunting.
However (and despite avoiding posting anything on this forum over several years of lurking) I felt that someone should acknowledge the measured, moderate tone of Ms George's post.
Well done that lady!
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 10:04
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A.Agincourt - you have a point, but I have found that helicopters of the medium to large variety or those with a noisy wang wang main rotor blades, ie: two main rotor blades DO frighten horses. Believe me I had children and a wife who rode and I was in the parrafin budgie. They do get used to it in part but a sudden noise from low flying aircraft of all sorts really get them going, and not always in the direction intended. I commend Janet Georges post as being very well written and thought out. If in doubt stay away from livestock of all kinds if you can, especially chickens! Boy do they learn to fly really quickly!
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 10:32
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They should cross breed all horses with Dartmoor ponys. You have to practically land on the things before they will look up, glare at you and wander about 3 feet away before going back to eating whatever it is they find so tasty on those blasted heaths. The only way you could frighten one with a helicopter is if it was an Apache and you were firing rockets at them, even then I'd give you good odds they'd ignore you.
I've never seen a creature less interested in helicopters, apart from my wife.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 13:15
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Latest news, 'Coventry Evening Telegraph'

From the 'Coventry Evening Telegraph,
14th March 2009

Coventry Telegraph - News - Coventry News - Protestor filmed hunt supporter's death, court told



THE FINAL moments of a hunt supporter who was nearly decapitated by an aircraft’s propellers were filmed by an animal rights campaigner.
Details about the grim footage were revealed as anti-hunt protester Bryan Griffiths, of Wiltshire Close, Bedworth, appeared before magistrates in Nuneaton yesterday, charged with the murder of Trevor Morse.
Griffiths, a 54-year-old heating engineer, is accused of killing Mr Morse in the incident at Long Marston airfield, near Stratford, last Monday.
His gyrocopter – a privately-owned aircraft similar to a small helicopter – had landed to refuel after being used to monitor a hunt in south Warwickshire.
Hunt monitors often use videos and cameras to make sure hunts are acting within the law.
The court heard yesterday Mr Morse, aged 48, a self-employed gardener from Alderminster, near Stratford, died almost instantly after being struck by a blade of the gyrocoptor, which was being controlled by Griffiths.

A volunteer marshall and committee member of the Warwickshire Hunt, Mr Morse was known to regularly help with the smooth running of hunts.
It’s thought he had been watching the Warwickshire Hunt when the tragedy happened.
Mr Morse, who lived with his partner Caroline, was described by Warwickshire Hunt master Sam Butler as a loving partner, son and brother.
Griffiths was remanded in custody and is due to appear at Warwick Crown Court on Monday March 23.
A second man, held on suspicion of murder, has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 15:07
  #128 (permalink)  
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To all of you who keep going back to the height , was it legal was it not , that is irrelevent . if it was legal , then we have more to worry about as birddog says , we will end up with even more red tape and laws . Is that want we want ? The 500ft rule works quite well as a bench mark and it would be a great shame if the stupidity of others makes it need to be reworked . Obviously you are going to make a nuisance of yourself following people and spying on them , even at 1,000 ft If i hovered outside Van whats his names house @ 1,000ft with a zoom lense looking through his bedroom window checking he was doing nothing illegal , or immoral , i guess he would like the power to stop me ?? Do not forget ...these people have every right to hunt just as you have the4 right to fish or indulge in other past times . I have even had a pm from one ppruner who is obviously a rabid anti , yet he shoots and fishes next time he gets his rod out i will send a squadron of r22,s to hovver over him @ 501 ft
We, the flying community , either condemn this sort of behaviour without reservation or we may well lose a lot of the freedoms we take for granted .
example . I have to fly an MD 500 ifr , airways ,Min Alt FL 12 to cross Egypt next month , no deviation no vfr . Same for Sudan , Ethiopia etc etc We are very lucky to ave the freedoms we currently have .
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 16:06
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As a lurker who knows little about horses or helicopters, it seems to me that without appropriate training or safety advice, both are best given a wide berth.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 16:06
  #130 (permalink)  
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I can't help but be amazed at the increasing desperation of the anti-hunt campaigners. Not content with being able to "monitor" hunting from the ground in their attempts to prove that the hunt is acting outside the law, Mr Griffiths took to the air to (one assumes) gather eyewitness/video/photographic evidence from his gyro. It would be unfair too assume that he took to the air deliberately to harrass anyone on horseback.

Which brings me onto a point - if it could be proved that Mr Griffiths was, perhaps, getting his flying expenses paid by an anti-hunting organisation, would that be in contravention of the ANO and his licence privileges?
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 17:33
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AA,

Along that line of thinking....perhaps the Coppers should do a time line analysis and determine if the victim exceeded the speed limit during his cross country drive to the airfield where the mishap occurred. If they determine he was in a "hurry" to get there and violated the speed limits then it would show he was not coldly going to have a civil conversation and would therefore show his state of mind was not that of a normal person.

I will bet you the Defense will be doing that along with other investigations to fully define the situation that existed prior to the Prop Strike. The Police should have done that already and not just look to prove a crime without taking in all of the evidence that both supports and mitigates the charge.

I would suggest if the man is charged with Murder and the charge is proved in a court the taking of money for the flying will become a rather moot point.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 18:02
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I have always felt that the horse does not get concerned overly if it can hear or see something approach. To be startled suddenly is another matter. It is often the case that a rider [who very often who does not hear the aircraft approach] gets startled and transmits that nervousness or concern to the mount.
You are right - to a degree! It depends on the individual horse - and the individual 'something' - and each horse will view that 'something' differently depending on his life experience, training and natural temperament.

The horse evolved as a prey species - flight is his first defence. And ANYTHING he is not familiar with is a potential predator. Now many horses don't react to an aircraft (or a fast car) because while they are obviously 'predators' they are gone so quickly that they are obviously chasing some other poor bu**er! If the 'something' lands - then a loose horse will put a 'safe' distance between himself and it - then stop and watch. If 'it' doesn't move, he will return to investigate (and never leave a light plane or chopper unattended in a field with horses - they'll strip it bare!)

But a plane or chopper that hovers around above horses is NOT chasing someone else - it's waiting to pounce - and making a lot of noise in the process! If the rider is capable of stopping the horse from running, it is likely the horse will go into 'fight' mode; rearing and bucking to make himself appear bigger and more frightening!

And yes - in many cases it is the rider's fear of what the horse MIGHT do that causes a horse to panic. But if it's your 10 year old on a pony that's bolting towards a busy road, who are YOU going to blame?

They should cross breed all horses with Dartmoor ponys. You have to practically land on the things before they will look up, glare at you and wander about 3 feet away before going back to eating whatever it is they find so tasty on those blasted heaths.
I suspect that's familiarity as well as temperament - Dartmoor is used by the military for low flying training (when they're not above my farm!! What ARE those HUGE dark, quiet planes that travel very quietly and slowly??)
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 19:38
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The horse evolved as a prey species...
What an interesting post. After all the idle speculation about horses it is nice to read some facts from someone who is evidently "certified on type" and can explain horse "systems".

But in any case, legal or not, I do not see how anyone can defend the practice of circling at 500ft over people, animals or property in this way. A/C have no business flying low over the countryside except for the purposes of takeoff/landing or where necessary to comply with airspace limitations. And if you have to fly so low you should always pass through the area as quickly as possible, allowing just the occasional 720´turn to wave at girl/boyfriends.

There is, though, a possibility of extracting a positive outcome from this sorry affair: If every flying club and horse club could arrange reciprocal open days perhaps both sides could understand each other better.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 20:05
  #134 (permalink)  
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Something that we discovered from balloon flying and low-level helicopter aerial work is, as I think was mentioned earlier horses, cattle, pigs are relatively happy if they can SEE what's making the noise.

Trouble is, these animals are not wired to look UP for danger having never had an airborne enemy.

If you surprise these animals, say by flying low over a field bounded by high trees, they go bonkers - usually trying to go straight through the fence or up the nearest tree.

We conducted several experiments so that we could operate with the least disturbance to these animals. The first was a herd of young cattle, the helicopter, with G/A radio contact approached the field from some distance fairly flat and I stood in the herd "talking to" the girls (well, not IN the herd but near enough to get away if it went pear-shaped). They were fine, couldn't care less.

The second time was with a group of Highland cattle. They were lying down doing what cows do. We did the same flat bomber command approach and landed 50 yards from them. They didn't even get up. Horses seem to act in a similar way if they can see what's going on. I can't guarantee that this will work all the time, but it was interesting.

As I say, if you surprise them and they can't see what's going on - all hell can break loose.

There was a video made by a farmer/balloonist about 10 years ago aimed at sport and GA flyers to get them to understand the issues, don't know if it's still available. I will try to find out.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 20:16
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There was a video made by a farmer/balloonist about 10 years ago aimed at sport and GA flyers to get them to understand the issues, don't know if it's still available. I will try to find out.
If you can get this on YouTube and post a link it will be appreciated.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 20:18
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deltayankee - et al...

If I recall, it was intended to be sold through flying clubs, G/A airfield shops, etc.

I will try to see if it is either still around as a VHS or maybe even on DVD.
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Old 14th Mar 2009, 22:12
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I would suggest if the man is charged with Murder and the charge is proved in a court the taking of money for the flying will become a rather moot point.
Would the CAA leave the guy alone, if found he was guilty on the murder charge, even if there was enough evidence to charge the accused with aviation offences?
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Old 15th Mar 2009, 07:37
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airborne artist

Re your question . . .

Who knows? Maybe yes, maybe no. Does it really matter?
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Old 15th Mar 2009, 13:19
  #139 (permalink)  
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I grew up riding horses around the Middle Wallop area, The horses didn't take any notice of the helicopter activity, because as mentioned they seemed to know it was on its way somewhere else and not chasing them. They can get used to anything with the right training, take police horses for example. But you give them something that makes them feel threatened and they can bolt and that can kill themselves and their rider.

When I was dairy farming in a different part of the country the cows just dozed and chewed their cud when low level RAF aircraft went over. But one day a hot air balloon went over, put on it's hot air or whatever it is they do right over the herd...the cows went completely nuts, fences broken, all over the road, car crashes, injuries, lost milk yield, aborted calves.... Probably because it was so sudden, they didn't hear it "Approaching" and weren't used to it. Believe me it takes a lot to spook a dairy cow!

If livestock weren't spooked by low level aircraft then the mustering folks here in Aus in their R22s wouldn't get much work done!
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Old 15th Mar 2009, 14:58
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A general point... but there's a lot of difference between horses in stables or grazing in a field, and horses that are out hunting. The latter are likely to be much more excitable and thus more prone to spooking, bolting, etc if they see/hear something that disturbs them. Added to that, horses out hunting are not necessarily going to be in familiar terrain, which will add to their spook-ability.
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