Cleared for take off! Bird lands on HMS Illustrious

CHASE Robbie Roberts trying to get the bird out of the danger area
CHASE Robbie Roberts trying to get the bird out of the danger area
Defence correspondent om Cotterill on the jet simulator

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THIS cheeky rare bird thought it could fly with the machines after it landed on the Royal Navy’s helicopter carrier in the middle of flying operations.

The cormorant, a threatened species on the Gulf coast where HMS Illustrious is currently patrolling, decided to stop on the carrier’s flight deck to preen its feathers.

Unfortunately, the carrier was about to launch aircraft including Apache, Sea King and Lynx helicopters.

So it fell to the flight deck crew to usher the cormorant down the runway and off the ship.

Leading Engineering Technician Robbie Roberts said: ‘We’re used to clearing the deck of any items that might damage the helicopters before flying begins – nuts, bolts, keys, pens – but not cormorants.

‘It had a funny walk which I couldn’t help copying.

‘It didn’t seem to mind and the deck hands had a good laugh.

‘With a little bit of encouragement, we managed to get the bird to take off so our more normal flying operations could resume.’

HMS Illustrious is the UK’s Portsmouth-based high readiness amphibious assault carrier.

She is currently on one of the Royal Navy’s major deployments, the annual Cougar exercise.

The Cougar 13 deployment has seen the carrier operating in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, the Gulf and Horn of Africa.

It involves exercising with the UK’s partner nations to keep up the armed services’ capacity which can be deployed anywhere in the world.

As reported in The News, the government has this week launched an official call for people to come up with ideas on how Illustrious can be preserved when she is decommissioned next year.