Utøya island attack: another example of news helicopters faster to the scene than police choppers

Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a message after seeing images taken from a helicopter of Anders Behring Breivik shooting people at Utøya island during the so-called 2011 Norway attacks. He couldn’t understand why there could be images of the murderer before the police had arrived into the island.

The explaination is simple: those images were taken by a news helicopter that was able to reach Utøya and shoot the footage well before the Police’s Special Forces could manage to reach the island (1 hour and 35 minutes after Breivik had begun massacring people).

People on Social Networks were astonished that a news chopper could intervene quicker than a police one, however, there are many media helicopters overflying the largest town of the world and, quite often, they are able to get exclusive images in the immediate aftermath of disasters and terrorist attacks.

In my opinion, the question is not why a news helicopter was able to get to the scene before special forces one but: in such events, does the news chopper stand in police chopper’s path? Can a news helicopter spur the wrong reaction from a murderer/terrorist who could feel under the spotlight?

Read the follow up post (Jul. 25, 2011) here.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. “Spur the wrong reaction” …?

    A murderer/terrorist on a bombing or killing spree …
    …. do his reactions go anymore wrong??

    The News chopper should have picked up a sniper
    on their way!

  2. The news chopper was on their way to take overall pictures of the bombing i Oslo, as they were sent to Utøya. Long before the police was gone to action.

  3. I agree David .. now you explained your point more extensively .. that an terrorist can feel an extra boost under the spotlight of a media-chopper. But…I think in this time of almost real-life media coverage terrorists are knowing (and using) that beforehand.

    The question for me is how those special forces can be on the spot as quickly as this media-chopper was. I suggested in my twitter messages that it maybe is possible to integrate small teams of SFs into the same network as of Air Ambulances…who, like here in the Netherlands, can often reach a place within 15-20 minutes. Why not integrate Air Ambulances, police-choppers and small SFs teams into the same locations?..so you have a network that covers a whole country.

    In times of tension and (terroristic) “war” that seems to me a step that has to be considered seriously. Because the mass-killing of so many people does have a strong impact on society and how people feel…and that influences other processes and politics. Maybe not so long openly…life goes on quickly…but more deep inside…in the unconscious mind.

  4. Like Ole-Bernt wrote, the news helicopter was simply lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

    Also, as I have understood it, norwegian police only have one helicopter (I don’t know if that applies to Norway as a whole or simply the Oslo area), and that helicopter isn’t used to transport police special forces. I can understand why, most police helicopters I’ve seen are probably to small to transport a fully equipped police special forces team. They would probably need a few Black Hawks or similar medium lift utility helicopters for such a job.

    I also don’t think there is much of a need for a small network of helicopters for such a purpose. A small country like Norway have perhaps one police special forces team on duty at any given time, so if the helicopters are supposed to be useful they have to be on standby nearby.

    One problem with having helicopters standby is that they are expensive, and if they are rarely used, chances are that they will get cut to save money and as long they aren’t needed they won’t be missed.

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