Fore! Helicopter pilot plans golf balls drop

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GOLFERS use a nine-iron, a wedge and a putter – but rarely a chopper.

But Captain Mike Burns at Atlas Helicopters in Lee-on-the-Solent will be using one from his firm to drop 1,700 golf balls on a fairway and try for a hole in one.

(left), Captain Mike Burns with crew member  Roy Adams.   Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141353-1)

(left), Captain Mike Burns with crew member Roy Adams. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141353-1)

The experienced pilot will rely on crew member Roy Adams via intercom to guide him over the temporary hole on a golf course as he won’t be able to see it.

Cpt Burns said: ‘I will be flying it and Roy is my crew member, so he’ll be sitting inside the helicopter with the doors removed.

‘He will be guiding me into position because I won’t be able to see the hole.

‘We’ll be doing it from about 90ft above the ground and he will let me know when he’s releasing the balls.’

Cpt Burns got the inspiration for the drop after watching similar ones in America on YouTube.

But on the videos he’s seen the pilots haven’t been successful and have missed the hole – just as he did in a practice run at Daedalus.

He added: ‘We have already tested this and 1,000 golf balls takes about eight seconds from opening the chute.

‘We used a black bin we had in our hangar.

‘We tried to drop them in the bin but unfortunately we didn’t hit the bin.

‘It took us a little while to get them all back.’

Cpt Burns had to apply to the Civil Aviation Authority as it is in contravention of Article 129 of the Air Navigation Order to drop items and animals.

And he’s feeling much luckier for June 4 at Cowdray Park in West Sussex. He’s learnt to aim slightly away from the target after the dry run at Daedalus.

The 1,700 numbered golf balls will cost £5 each and the winner – the one closest to the hole – will receive £500 with the remaining money 
going to Treloar School and College.

It is a non-maintained special school/college for disabled children in Alton.

The helicopter firm was set up in 2001 and does charter and hire flights.

It has bases across the country.