£20,000 US spy chopper comes down in Edinburgh

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By Rory Reynolds

RESIDENTS have been looking to the skies for a £20,000 US spy helicopter after a collector lost his model on its first outing.

Business owner John Wallbank was testing out his new Draganflyer X6 in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens when it vanished out of sight.

The print shop entrepreneur was among the first to receive the recently declassified mini-chopper, which was used by the US military for around six years.

He bought the expensive device to launch an aerial photography firm, and take pictures of weddings, golf courses and roofing companies.

John is now offering £500 for the return of the aircraft, which does not work unless it’s reunited with his control unit, which is encrypted.The 37-year-old said: “The Draganflyer X6 locks on to 16 satellites, but because I was fairly inexperienced I put it into the sky before it had time to lock on to the satellites.

Malfunction

“It fell out of its flight path and was lot out of sight. There was also a malfunction with the GPS system.

“When it runs out of electricity it goes into a controlled descent and it would have been seen as it came down as each of its three corners has very bright lights – red, green and white.

“It was declassified a year ago by the US military, who devised the product and used it for five or six years for reconnaissance missions.

“This allowed the manufacturer, Canadian company Draganfly Innovations, to sell the product to police and private individuals like myself.”

John lost track of the chopper, which is run on powerful batteries and operated by a custom designed controller, on Saturday afternoon.

The Canadian firm that designed it still sells the device to police forces, marketing it as an “urban crime fighter”.

Infrared cameras

A number of police forces in the US use the chopper, which is fitted with low light and infrared cameras, to scope out crime scenes.

He said: “It’s a brand new product – it only became available in the UK fourth months ago – and I wanted to approach wedding companies, roofing companies and golf courses to offer aerial photographs.

“It has everything on it as far as gadgets and gizmos go.

“Where a full-size helicopter would only be able to fly up to 500 metres above the highest building, this thing goes up to 7km before it loses communications with the ground.

“It’s very versatile and easy to manoeuvre in small spaces.

Cash

“I thought it came down near the castle but it wasn’t there, then I realised it actually came down at the west side of Charlotte Square.

“It’s quite possible that someone has lifted it. There is also the distinct possibility that it could have come down on a rooftop.

“It’s really down to the general public in Edinburgh. Hopefully the cash incentive being offered will be sufficient enough for them to do the right thing.”

John asked any who finds the device and wants to claim the £500 compensation to email him at [email protected]

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