New search helicopter draws crowd

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WALKERS were stunned by the low-flying new search and rescue helicopter.

Teams from the coastguard were at their regular training spot at Eastney beach on Saturday at around 1pm.

They were using the new AW139 helicopter, based in Lee-on-the-Solent.

Rosey Thomas, 24, snapped this photo, left, of the helicopter in action.

Photographer Rosey, of Granada Road, Southsea, said: ‘We were out taking shots and came across it.

‘They were practising dry winching. It’s their new helicopter so they were practising using it.

‘We watched for quite a while and there were loads of people watching them.’

The coastguard confirmed it was a training exercise.

Speaking at the time of the arrival of the helicopter in January, Damien Oliver, assistant director of aviation at the agency, said the new aircraft were a vast improvement on previous models.

‘These are bigger aircraft and can fly longer than the AW139s,’ he said.

‘They can fly in all weathers which is something the other helicopters could not do.’