We had a very odd series of flights over Luz today. Whether this is connected to Madeleine McCann remains to be seen.
First, let me describe the normal flight pattern over Luz.
There are transatlantic jets flying over Luz frequently. Without exception, these all at cruising altitude, which means you never hear them. Most of the time you cannot see them either. The only time you realise they are there is when the weather conditions are right for contrails, then you can see Luz is under several international routes.
After that, Luz gets infrequent flights from the small airport just west of Lagos. This happens perhaps twice a week. The aircraft involved are normally very small, typically 2 seater single engine down to micro-light. Rarely do we get a helicopter, and they normally come from Faro airport.
So from about 8am this morning, the pattern changed dramatically. Between then and around 9:45am there were 8 passes over Luz, with things reverting to quiet from then until now (1pm).
The graphic shows the rough path 7 of these flights took, going anti-clockwise around Luz. The final flight appeared to be to the east of Luz, possibly over Boavista golf course.
Please note, when I say rough path that is precisely what I mean. Intervening trees and villas prevent more accuracy.
First up was a helicopter. Then came a twin engine propeller driven aircraft, that looked to be around 8-10 seats. Then it was a helicopter, for the final 6 flights, with roughly 15 minutes between each flight. It looked the same helicopter each time but I cannot be certain. The helicopter appeared to be around 6-seater size.
So, what were they up to?
Well, the pattern we got today was quite different to the pattern we got when Andy decided to have his jaunt over Luz in mid-2014, short before the Scotland Yard dig. What happened then was two helicopters from Faro at the same time, one for Andy and one for Sky News. Both of these did several passes over Luz, then disappeared back to base.
I thought it might be some event at Lagos airport, but the early start followed by the current stop makes that unlikely.
My next thought was that with the 8th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance fast approaching, someone might be getting some extra footage in the can. Time will tell on that, but the pattern of the helicopter following the same route almost every time and flying out to sea suggests otherwise. Further, I can’t find a snifter of anything breaking re Madeleine.
So, I then wondered if it was just someone practising helicopter flying, perhaps even sitting an exam. That seems a bit better, but a hour and three quarters doing 15 minute cycles seems odd. And the helicopter looked to be bigger than a trainer. And how does the twin-engined plane fit in.
My current best guess is that it is a film or news crew, but it is not connected to Madeleine McCann.
On Saturday 25 April, Luz is running its second annual triathlon. This is an event that raises a lot of money for NECI, a charity in Luz dealing with terminally-ill children. I missed the first triathlon completely because nobody bothered to tell me it was on, but I hope to get involved this year.
So, I’m thinking that someone was working out the best way to cover the event. They tried a helicopter (very noisy) then a twin-engined plane (unbelievably noisy) before going back to the helicopter and practising for Saturday.
If that guess is correct then the helicopter will be back on Saturday so I’ll find out soon. If it is wrong, you can anticipate a programme along the lines of Maddie 8 years on, with some aerial shots from today.