April 17 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 27, 2013
The pilot who left a smiley face and kisses high above Sandringham as the Royal Family arrived for a Christmas Day church service said he did it because he is “a bit of a royalist”.
Aerobatic flier Mark Jefferies drew greetings across the skies as thousands of well-wishers greeted the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other Royals on Wednesday.
“I’m a bit of a royalist, I do appreciate what they do,” he said. “It was just a smiley face, a bit of joy on Christmas Day.”
Mr Jefferies, 54, said he hoped to leave a heart thousands of feet above the crowd in the clear sky, after completing a pair of kisses, but was caught out by the weather.
“The wind at altitude distorted the shape somewhat,” he said. “You do sky writing two miles high, at 11,000ft. It’s vapourised baby oil, so it’s environmentally-friendly.”
Mr Jefferies said it took his 200mph Extra330 stunt plane around 16 minutes to fly to Sandringham from his base at Little Gransden Airfield, on the Bedfordshire - Cambridgeshire border. He said the trip cost him £1,200 in aviation fuel - plus £50-worth of baby oil.
After gaining a pilot’s licence at the age of 21, he flew as a hobby until sky-writing turned into a business.
“I do quite a few shows for weddings, doing hearts and kisses.”
Mr Jefferies’ high-altitude appearence drew gasps from the crowd as his aircraft appeared over West Newton. It soon became clear his intentions were peaceful, as a huge smiley face appeared.
His stunt was not the only light-hearted moment of the day. Laughter broke out when Peter Phillips, the Princess Royal’s son, made rabbit’s ears behind Prince William, as he and Prince Harry posed for a photo for a group of well-wishers waiting outside church.