Tag Archives: Olympic Games

All the most interesting aviation-related moments of the Olympic Games opening ceremony

In order of appearance.

The Red Arrows fly over the Olympic Stadium

The world’s most famous-spy James Bond personally escorts The Queen Elizabeth II to the games on an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter. The unusual duo parachutes into the stadium.

Unfortunately, there was no video coverage of the AW101 airdrop of 7 billion biodegrable confetti into the stadium as the Great Britain team entered the arena.

Quite weirdly, the Finmeccanica logo on the AW139 registered G-OLYM was much more visible on TV during the 4-hour long opener than the British Airways one.

James Bond daredevil chopper leap, helicopter's eight billion confetti air drop: some of the Olympic opener highlights

Although the presence of the Red Arrows at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games has already been made public, the London 2012 Olympic Games show promises some rather funny helicopter action.

Details leaked so far through the organization’s secrecy curtain are scarce, however rumors (and more detailed media reports) are spreading quite fast.

According to them an AgustaWestland helicopter is going to be the platform for the lauch of two unusual (stunt) skydivers: James Bond and Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II.

Whereas the fact that a 007 double will parachute into the stadium has been confirmed by several articles, I’m not sure the rumor of a skydiver dressed as the Queen is to be believed.

The helicopter flying during the opening stages of the show is believed to be the special colored AW139 (with registration G-OLYM) also featured in the famous Tower Bridge video.

Another helicopter will be part of the show: an AW.101 in the “Union Flag Burst” color scheme.

The +15-ton chopper, that will appear in the next James Bond’s “Skyfall” movie, should drop 8 billion confetti into the stadium towards the end of the ceremony.

Finmeccanica‘s group company AgustaWestland has been selected as the sole supplier of helicopters for the Olympics and the Italian choppers also appear on some Olympics themed commercials from London 2012 sponsors.

Olympics air security gets its first test as Typhoon is scrambled from RAF Northolt, in noth-west London

At around 12.20pm local time on Wednesday Jul. 25 the RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoons based at RAF Northolt (London) for Olympic Games security got their first scramble.

Using radio callsign 6NK31, the first Typhoon roared into the skies above northwest London whereas a second jet was kept on holding on the runway threshold ready to launch as 6NK32.

Once airborne, 6NK31 went south towards Heathrow and circled overhead at 4,000 feet before the intercept was called off. As 6NK32 returned to its shelter 6NK31 moved to RAF Marham where it entered into a holding pattern to burn fuel before landing back at Northolt.

Aircraft on QRA in north-west London are among the somehow controversial security measures put in place to protect the Olympics, that are kicking off on Jul. 27.

As of writing it is not known what caused the scramble order.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Giovanni Maduli

Banksy latest Olympic themed mural depicts an athlete throwing an air-to-air missile as opposed to a javelin

Among the two Olympic Games themed stencils that the famous street artist Banksy has painted on walls in unknown locations, there is also a javelin thrower armed with an air-to-air missile.

Similar to an AIM-9(N) Sidewinder (even if the fins seem to be different from any known Sidewinder or even Atoll model…) the missile in the hand of the javelin thrower could be the means the notorious anonymous painter has chosen to use to condemn the militarization of London in advance of the Olympics.

Indeed, along with Eurofighter Typhoons on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at RAF Northolt, several more assets enforcing a No Fly Zone around London while the HMS Ocean is anchored at Greenwich, the large military machine put in place by the UK to protect the Games sees also Rapier SAM batteries deployed at sites around the capital.

Some of these sites have been controversial as they have been set up on roofs of apartment buildings and many locals have protested at the missiles proximity to their homes.

This could have inspired Banksy for his mural. Although he took the license to use an IR-guided air-to-air missile instead of a radar-guided SAM (Surface to Air Missile).

Image credit: Banksy website

Near miss as Britain's biggest warship squeezes through Thames Barrier to attend the Olympic Guard exercise

Along with the Typhoon on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at RAF Northolt, west London, the Olympic Guard exercise, whose goal is to test the security plan aimed to prevent a 9/11 type of attack during this summer’s Olympics, saw also the participation of the HMS Ocean  amphibious assault ship.

In fact, while several other assets will be enforcing the No-Fly Zone, and a few SAM (Surface to Air Missile) batteries will track suspect planes from the roof of some residential buildings, Britain’s biggest warship, will be docked at Greenwich as a precaution against any potential terrorist attacks.

Therefore, on May 4, the helicopter carrier made its way up the River Thames with eight Lynx choppers belonging to both the Royal Navy and Army on board.

However, the journey up the river of the 21,500-tonne ship was made particularly difficult by the 61-mt gaps in the moveable flood barriers lying downstream on the Thames. In fact, as the 35-mt wide ship approached the barrier, the wind pushed it towards one of the 20-mt tall steel gates.

With the help of three tugboats, the helicopter carrier was able to safely sail through the narrow gap but the near miss fueled criticism for the “over the top” exercise put in place by the UK’s MoD for the Olympics Games.

Especially since no specific threats have been made to the Games.

Image credit: AFP PHOTO/ BEN STANSALL