Villager takes potshot at helicopter

A potential disaster could have happened in the skies over Norfolk after it emerged an incensed villager may have shot at a military helicopter flying low overhead.

A disaster could have happened in the skies over Norfolk after it emerged that an incensed villager may have shot at a military helicopter flying low overhead.

The incident is thought to have happened around the village of Weybourne in the last few weeks as a large United States Air Force (USAF) exercise took place around the north Norfolk coast.

The claim that a shotgun had been discharged towards a USAF helicopter surfaced in a letter to the region's MP Norman Lamb, who is now contacting the Ministry of Defence and the US embassy about his concerns over night-time low-flying aircraft.

Mr Lamb says that many people have complained about military craft buzzing over their homes, with reports of angry residents being disturbed at night by hovering helicopters.

He said: "I was horrified to hear that someone had become so incensed that they fired a shotgun at a helicopter.

"Obviously, the implications of this are very serious and it could have caused a serious loss of life. If this claim is true then it is of course totally unacceptable and has to be condemned.

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"However, why are such exercises taking place in the middle of the night very close to a village community?

"I understand the need for air forces to train properly for deployments but surely this must be balanced against the needs of the communities they are flying over."

Mr Lamb has now contacted Des Browne, the secretary of state for defence, and the US ambassador to Britain, Robert Tuttle, asking them to review low-flying procedures.

The MoD press office said it would not comment on the alleged shooting incident and low flying because they were related to US forces.

USAF said it always followed national guideline about low flying at all times and said it was unaware that one of its helicopters had been shot at.

Recent USAF exercises, involving units from RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, saw F-15 fighter jets, A-10 tank busters and special forces helicopters flying over north Norfolk to practice for difficult missions in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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