Saturday, April 21, 2012

RAW VIDEO: Coastguard pilot suspended for using helicopter to pick up steaks from Orkney butcher

The pilot of a coastguard helicopter has been suspended after flying to an island at the end of a training exercise to collect fillet steaks from his favourite butcher. 

Caught red-handed: A video uploaded to YouTube has revealed a British coastguard pilot who flew to the island of Orkney to pick up a steak from his favourite butcher. Picture: BBC/YouTube Supplied

The crew of the Shetland Coastguard aircraft flew 85 miles from their base to pick up £400 worth of prime cuts on the unscheduled shopping trip to Orkney.

The incident came to light after a video of the helicopter landing in a field was posted on YouTube.

Mobile phone footage, since removed from the site, showed two crewmen collecting a bag of beef from several butchers who were there to see the landing.

 The aircraft touched down in a field near ER & T Craigie, a butcher based at Tankerness on the east mainland of Orkney.

 CHC Helicopter, the operator of the aircraft, has launched an inquiry and confirmed that the pilot had been suspended.

 A spokesman said the training exercise had been completed before the landing, and any costs incurred would be met by the company, not the taxpayer.

She added: "We expect high standards of professionalism from all our employees and if we find these have not been met, we will take the appropriate action.

"While the aircraft was previously engaged in a training exercise, it was operating a non-revenue flight at the time of the incident in question."

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it had asked CHC to investigate as a matter of urgency and regarded any misuse of its assets as "completely unacceptable".

Meanwhile, Thorfinn Craigie, 38, the butcher at the centre of the incident, said he was horrified to learn that the pilot had been suspended, and pointed out that the aircraft had been "in the area" at the time.

He also revealed that it was the second time a helicopter had landed to collect premium meat.

He added: "They normally land about two miles away at Kirkwall Airport and they wanted us to meet them at the airfield. But I told them that since I own the land behind the butchery shed, they could land there.

"One of the crew said that would be great because they have to train to do drops in rough areas.

"So they did it last month and did it again on Monday. They love our meat and came back for more. It was all good cuts. Fillet steaks and roasting joints of silverside."

Mary Scanlon, the Highlands and islands Conservative MSP, said Orkney meat was world famous for its quality, adding: "The Shetland Coastguard are obviously aware of this, but next time they fancy some of it they should consider vacuum-packed mail order, and not use life-saving training time for a shopping trip."

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