By on August 27, 2008

The next phasePistonheads reports that Britain's War on Speed is reaching levels of expense and complication to rival our own War on Drugs. Signs have been appearing around Essex to "warn" drivers that something Orwellian this way hovers, as the county has turned to helicopters to fight the evil of speeding. And true to form, the copper chopper is stocked with goodies that would make Big Brother nod his head approvingly. The automated onboard camera system can recognize number plates from 700 ft, and and a "Skyshout" public address system allows officers to bark orders at offending motorists or blast "Flight of the Valkyries" to get all pumped. And with the Orwellian kit comes the kind of tortured justification that brings to mind ol' George's maxim that "the object of power is power." You see, speeders are a tricky lot, and since cars are too easy to ticket, they've switched to motorcycles. Says the chairman of the Essex Casualty Reduction Board, "There is a perception it is sometimes easier for motorcyclists to evade detection of offences because of the speed they travel at. We feel signs warning of the likelihood of detection by air will be an extra incentive for motorcyclists in particular, and all motorists, to drive safely." Which makes the initiative well worth the $1,800/hour expense, right?

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24 Comments on “Citation Rides A Black Helicopter...”


  • avatar
    N85523

    Has anybody priced a gallon (or liter) of UK Jet-A that these helos will be consuming copiously? It’s around $6 a gallon here in the US. I can only imagine the tax-payer cash that it’ll take to keep these aerial enforcers online.

  • avatar

    It appears that Mr Brown’s war on motorists is escalating…
    If our beloved government here in the UK has indeed decided to use Apache military helicopters, that cost a fortune to run, in the name of reducing speeding; it’s time we had a revolution.
    And whilst the government attacks motorists it appears that we lose a child’s life each day to knife crime.

  • avatar
    ambulancechaser

    Actually, i think its called “Flight of the Valkyries.”

  • avatar
    Scottie

    I was hoping this would be about a Chevy on a Helicopter

  • avatar
    ljw

    @driving course:

    I can’t imagine they’d actually use Apache helicopters. The picture used with this article is an old one. It’s been floating around the Internet as a joke for a long time.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Do the cops fight any crime over there in the UK or are they too busy collecting revenue from speeders. Sounds like your government needs to get its priorities in order.

    I wonder if all this Orwellian thinking is helping your tourism, cause I sure don’t have any desire to set foot in your country, let alone spend money there.

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    Just wait till they smarten up and get autonomous UAV’s patrolling the skies. A high-flying AWACS+mothership watching over a big stretch of the highway or even the whole town. It’d be taping speeders from above, and a bunch of smaller interceptors would then go down to snap license plates. A $10000 money-making machine that costs a half a gallon of gas per hour to run – does it get any better? It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

    The combination of wireless communication and a recent explosion in model aircraft technologies is REALLY underused.

  • avatar
    Orian

    Redbarchetta,

    The US in in the same grips of Orwellian thinking if you hadn’t noticed – we rank right along with China, the UK, North Korea, and Russia for invasion of privacy and surveillance now, with our status listed as deteriorating. The cameras are presently breeding like rabbits/roaches (take your pick) all over the place.

  • avatar
    N85523

    alex_rashev,

    Shhhh! Don’t give them any more ideas.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Do the cops fight any crime over there in the UK or are they too busy collecting revenue from speeders. Sounds like your government needs to get its priorities in order
    Oh, don’t worry, they have plenty to do: they’re getting their panties in a bunch arresting parents for taking pictures of their own kids at public playgrounds (the pictures might end up the internet, donchaknow) or shooting brown-skinned electricians.

    It must be hard, what with good reason to harass poor Irish people anymore.

    Speeding can be a problem, and it’s worth enforcing where it presents a safety issue (though it’s usually speeding combined with poor judgement). The problem is it’s more work for officers to cite you for being a nitwit.

    On that point, a speed camera that snaps the license plate of a car is a hell of a lot cheaper than a helicopter. And you could use that helicopter (and officers in cruisers) to, you know, address real crime. But speed cameras don’t make for cushy, low-effort speed traps, nor do they make good PR.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Personally, there are some days I wish an attack helicopter would lay waste to certain drivers.

    Anyone who treats rush hour like an autocross course would be a prime target. Truckers who don’t understand “safe following distance” would be another.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    You know what would really deter speeding? Fit the helicopters with laser guided missiles to take out speeders for good! Seems to be the next logical step anyway.

  • avatar
    Petra

    Here in Canada, the province of Ontario has been using aircraft to pick off speeders all summer:

    http://www.opp.ca/Organization/TrafficSafety/HighwaySafetyDivision/opp_006442.html

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    I can totally see the FHP (Florida Highway Patrol) using Apaches to police the highways.

    Give it a few years.

  • avatar
    menno

    Every time I see a story like this, a) I cringe, b) and I thank God that my wife, children and I moved back to the USA from the UK 15 years ago.

    Then c) I cringe again as the United States is rapidly deteriorating to the same “standard”, as mentioned by others.

    Saw something online and it essentially was a map of the world showing where real freedom existed, freedom from being spied upon by your own government.

    The US was NOT one of the free areas.

    It’s only a matter of time before we’re all surveilled.

    My son (26 years old) just bought me the “Prisoner” DVD set of all 17 episodes. He figured my VCR set was “too old”.

    Unfortunately, it’s turning out to be a rather prophetic television series (dating from 1967-1968 – UK – though Patrick McGoohan is from NY).

  • avatar
    menno

    “psarhjinian :
    Personally, there are some days I wish an attack helicopter would lay waste to certain drivers.

    Anyone who treats rush hour like an autocross course would be a prime target. Truckers who don’t understand “safe following distance” would be another.”

    Yes, if only the occifers of the law (pardon me a moment while I choke laughing with that ironic statement) would actually enforce the decent and correct road rules. But they don’t seem to have ANY interest in doing so.

    I’m so fed up with people here in Michigan simply driving straight out from side roads in front of me (all the while I’m testing the effectiveness of ABS and Michelin tires, as well as my adrenalin producing glands) that I’ve just dropped two HELLA Autobahn horns (complete with 12 volt relay and in-line fuse) into my Prius.

    My pal’s brother came over to his shop while we were working and was busy mocking me (“what does a Prius exhaust note sound like? – ‘Immmmgaaaay\'”) and “why are you bothering with real horns?” I simply responded – well, I sure don’t feel ‘gay’ when I’m busy putting $11 in the tank for a 1/4 tank of fuel (after a week of driving) instead of $50 like YOU do with your SUV and yeah, the ‘real’ horns are for me, not them.

    It simply will make me ‘feel better’ to make sure they by-God hear me. If that helps me to not want to go chase them down, drag them from their cars and beat them to within an inch of their lives, all the better for them. So I guess the horns are ultimately FOR the idjit drivers on the road, really, aren’t they?

    He had no answers to that.

    Of course, the next day my wife and I went out in HER car and some ******* ***** ****** ************* %^&^$#%[email protected]#( pulled out straight in front of me and made me test the ABS and Michelins again…..

    I’ve got a loud low-note horn and I’m taking the Sonata to my buddy’s next chance I get…

  • avatar
    AG

    If there were UAV speed traps just wait for the Valentine One portable SAM launcher.

  • avatar
    RFortier1796

    A brief aside…

    I was always under the impression that the English had quite the command of the English language. Shouldn’t:

    “There is a perception it is sometimes easier for motorcyclists to evade detection of offences because of the speed they travel at”

    read:

    “There is a perception it is sometime easier for motorcyclists to evade detection of offences because of the speed at which they travel?”

    It is a minor annoyance. Sorry.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Ohio has been using airplanes for more than 20 years. Like I said, cop-ridden hell hole.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    This forum cracks me up.

    I think Alex has the right of it. UAVs would be perfect. Have a GPS/radar/high def camera system setup in the nose and you could double the size of the guv in no time.

    Here in Toronto, cottage weekend traffic would just get nailed to the wall.

  • avatar
    Bruce Banner

    The thought that so many people would buy into the idea that the ends justifies the means is a scary one. Perhaps Law Enforcement should be given high speed tanks for patrol so they can crush your car for speeding or blow it up if you don’t stop within 500 M.

  • avatar
    Dave

    Redbarchetta :
    “Do the cops fight any crime over there in the UK or are they too busy collecting revenue from speeders. Sounds like your government needs to get its priorities in order.”

    This govt does have it’s priorities in order from it’s pint of view – that’s to raise money anyway it can… but god knows what they spend it on, probably Swiss bank accounts.

    This govt is so anti-motorist, that the average person now meets the police via a penalty notice from a camera, or by a Traffic Cop who’s got targets to meet. And you wonder why the public no longer trusts a copper?

  • avatar
    RayH

    “Ohio has been using airplanes for more than 20 years. Like I said, cop-ridden hell hole.”

    My first ticket @ 19 in 1997 was from one of those planes, I’m almost certain it was a Cessna older than me. 67 in a 55 that later became a 65 zone. Just taught me to slow down a little “between the lines” or have a passenger look out/up for a plane.

    Ohio seems to be getting worse and worse for revenue enforcement, anecdotally.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    As someone who knows a little bit about aircraft, and has a healthy skepticism of government, I have a theory on this one.

    The idea behind using a helicopter could only come from a couple places. One, they had the money and wanted the helicopter. It is pure stupidity to use a helicopter for this mission due to the cost of operation.

    Two, they are now going to use the excessive cost of the helicopter to justify something else such as raising fees, or the real stupidity – using UAV’s.

    UAV’s are NOT ready to be used over friendly territory, as the US proved when they lost control of a million dollar plus predator over US airspace in a pilot(less) program for the border patrol.

    There is a myth of money savings with these toys, but the real savings is the ass of the bureaucrat who doesn’t now have a pilot who is smarter than he is second guessing his decisions on the scene.

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