VIDEO: The most stunning photos of Northern Ireland from the air – as taken by the PSNI helicopter squad over the last year

Everyone wishes they worked in an office with a view.

By Adam Kula
Thursday, 13th January 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 13th January 2022, 10:00 am

Well for a select few PSNI officers, their office window is thousands of feet high and fringed with clouds.

In between hunting for missing persons or stolen vehicles, the force’s Air Support Unit have become dab hands at capturing the beauty of the Province’s cities and countryside from the dizzying vantage point of their helicopters.

As 2021 recedes into memory, the News Letter looks back at some of their best snaps from the past year – from the bright lights of Belfast to the bald granite contours of the Mournes.

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The unit has three helicopters – one Eurocopter EC135 and two Eurocopter EC145s, operating with the callsigns Police45, Police46, and Police47.

Originally made by Boeing, they are now made by Airbus and are called H135 and H145 instead.

According to the manufacturer, these craft travel at up to 160mph with a range of about 400 miles.

The Air Support Unit has 21 police officers, nine pilots and two support staff.

It was first formed in 1992.

Asked if there are any particular favourite sights that the air team has, the PSNI responded: “The main focus of the Air Support Unit when on response is to fulfil its operational purpose.

“The response will always be based on the ultimate aim of keeping everyone safe.

“While out on this work, the team does appreciate the scenery over the North Coast, the Mournes, and Sperrins as well as many towns and cities across Northern Ireland, which can look stunning from the air.”

The air division comes under the control of the Crime Operations Department, headed by Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray, and covering the areas of CID, intelligence and serious crimes.

The air team’s remit consists in helping these land-based officers with traffic management, search and rescue, public order situations, and tackling terrorism.

Full list of locations in the video:

March 8: Enniskillen

March 25: Portrush

June 18: South Tyrone/north Armagh

June 19: Stormont’s Royal Mile

June 20: A mystery – the PSNI did not say!

August 24: Belfast city in fog

September 18: The high Mournes (Slieve Bearnagh’s jagged summit can be seen)

September 29: More Mournes

October 2: Belfast docks and city centre

October 20: Ballintoy (note the rescue helicopter’s blades!)

January 5: Back to the Mournes – this time with a dusting of frost

More from this reporter:

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