Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Any Scottish fans of ‘The Prisoner’ left?

I used to be a regular visitor to Portmeirion (no longer a secret that this was where ‘The Prisoner’ was filmed prior to broadcast in 1967), able to drive down during annual convention weekends. I was also a happy member of Six of One, The Prisoner Appreciation Society, until both came to an end for me some time after 1998.

Six of One imploded (as seen from my distant perspective as a subscriber), the conventions came to an end, the society appeared to lose favour with Portmeirion, and even the little Prisoner shop in the village closed. I hadn’t been able to make it there again (having to abort the next drive down as work meant I started the trip too late in the day), and later read that some attendees’ behaviour had led to apologies being issued to Portmeirion. Details never really emerged, but the invitation for Prisoner events seemed to evaporate for some years (as did my ability to get back there). As that was my last opportunity to make the trip, I ended up being glad I had aborted the trip, and wasn’t part of whatever happened that weekend.

I bumped into the former committee when the WorldCon came to Glasgow a few later, but they weren’t particularly approachable when I tried to say ‘Hello’, so that was that.

But, fast-forward a few years and The Unmutual Website (TUW) appeared.

Unusually, and unlike the acrimonious f0rmer society, there is no membership for TUW – just visit the web site and participate as you like.

I’ve done so for some years now, and the (very) nice man who runs it seems happy to hear from anybody.

Even me, with odd bits of trivia, such as this penny-farthing duo I found nearby one day.

Penny Farthing Twins

Penny Farthing Twins

I’ve followed the site for years now, and it has grown from a small start into a vast resource of wide and varied Prisoner related information.

For someone who was once there every year, it has assorted galleries of changes that have taken place in Portmeirion over the years, which helps make up for the loss of visits (and the 300 miles drive, ending with the remarkably Scottish looking final section through North Wales).

50th Anniversary

As noted above, 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of The Prisoner’s first broadcast, so this was a special year, as noted by TUW’s opening para on its report page:

‘The Prisoner’ 50th anniversary- an in-depth photo report on the event

September 29th 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the first UK screening of ‘Arrival’ (at 7.30pm on ATV Midlands on 29/9/1967).

NETWORK were the hosts and organisers of the official 50th anniversary event at Portmeirion, fifty years on, on 29th September 2017.

With The Unmutual Website advertising the event well in advance, most of the invited guests had been well publicised, as had the various screenings, so nothing less than a feast was promised. What was to follow exceeded even that, and proved to be an unforgettable smorgasbord of Prisoner delicacies!

The report continues with a lengthy and detailed description of the event, and coverage of the many members of the original cast able to attend, it was a unique picture opportunity too.

Fenella Fielding provided the Village Voice in the original series, so who better to announce each of the days events over a PA/speaker system which covered the whole of Portmeirion, caught on video – and looking amazing for 90!

A notable ‘first”reported from the event was the live performance of a Big Finish episode inside The Green Dome.

As a central location, Number 2’s residence, it was a little disappointing that this particular building was never accessible during any of the previous conventions or my visits, even it was a fantasy location that existed only as a set, and not actually under the dome. I did look closely during those early visits, and access was probably not really practical as the place was then in something of a state internally, and clearly in need of restoration, which it now seems to have had in good measure.

While you can go look up more related videos on YouTube, there’s one more I’d like to include here, and that’s the dedication by daughter Catherine McGoohan as she unveils a bust of Patrick McGoohan which will now mark his presence in the village.


October 17, 2017 Posted by | Surveillance, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Why you’ll never find me on Facecrook (ever)

Creepy Guy Pointing

If you can spare the time for a ‘long read’ then I recommend the following article, which voices all my concerns about the creepy world of facecrook – and more!

Facebook’s war on free will
How technology is making our minds redundant. By Franklin Foer

Compared to my own observations, which are fairly superficial, this analysis really makes me think that most people are mindless, and while there’s all sorts of whining and moaning about companies such as Google, who are merely doing what a company that is openly based on advertising would do with info that it can gather without being sneaky, there seems to be nothing that is secret and intrusive which facecrook can do that upsets most off the morons who use it without thinking about what they have signed up to.

While Google gets kicked around the floor for merely using information gleaned from people as they use its services, those who join facecrook seem quite happy to not only hand over their public details, but then pour all their intimate details and secrets into it – and then some of them get upset when that info is used by others.

My main gripe doesn’t relate to any of that (since they never suckered me in), but to the nasty way they the force people to join.

I’m fed up with people who suggest I ‘Look at my facecrook page‘, only to find I am denied access to what I have been offered unless I REGISTER and JOIN facecrook. Not everyone does this, but I also find most don’t know how to disable this either.

That, simply, is blackmail.

Worse still, I have read that some companies expect their employees to use facecrook.

Wonder how that would go down at an Industrial Tribunal if someone lost their job for not being on facecrook.

I wasn’t going to bother with this (why waste time on facecrook after all), then I saw they were doing the same with a survey:

The site is polling users about how they perceive it but declining to publish the results. Answer these survey questions and let us know your thoughts…

Facebook wants to know: is it good or bad? You tell us …


Facecrook is asking its own people to tell it if it is good or bad.

And how exactly will someone like me, who has an entirely negative view to express be able to make them aware of that view?

They deny me the option to express that view since I won’t JOIN their clique, therefore cannot respond to their survey.

They get only their ‘friends’ views.

And how many of those are going to say “We hate you, we loathe you, we despise you”?

(In this case I apologise for the many instances of ‘facecrook’ that appear here, I’m NOT trying to make a point, but then I can’t use the proper name all those times, which would help publicise it, and I’m not even doing that.)

September 27, 2017 Posted by | Surveillance | , | Leave a comment

I spotted another Streetwise installation

It’s a while since I spotted my first Streetwise surveillance camera setup, but now I’ve spotted my second.

This time it was on the Gallowgate, monitoring the junction at Bain Street, between Barrowland and Morrison’s.

This junction can get quite busy at times, and has the added complication of being on the exit route of a nearby fire station – if you look carefully at the Barrowland pic you can see the additional warning lights on the junction in the background.

There may be plans to change the road layout here, or alter the traffic lights.

We’ll see.

There was also a recent announcement about a refurbishment of the whole Barras area, which may be connected to this survey.

In each case the camera is at the top of the temporary pole visible on the left, with a data storage box attached at the bottom.

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Barrowland

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Barrowland


Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Morrisons

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Morrisons

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

He’s behind me, isn’t he?

So, there I was, quietly eyeing up the next potential shot (just a photograph… this time), and that creepy “Somebody’s watching me” feeling arrives. Yet there’s almost nobody else around.

I look around, with a little more care, and sure enough, sitting at a window behind me, and watching carefully – one of feline overlords.

I grabbed a quick pic as I knew this character would disappear the moment it knew I was returning the favour, and watching back.

It’s not a good pic and doesn’t do this rather nice tortie justice, but the quick shot meant the camera focus locked on the nearest feature, in this case the left edge of the window, and refused to budge no matter what buttons I poked.

Tollcross Road Cat Watch

Tollcross Road Cat Watch

But what about the spooky hooded skull reflection?

I wonder if really was the cat that was watching me though.

Look just above its head and right ear – is that a hooded spectre?

Some would say it’s just a reflection (of a car wheel).

But it looks so much like a hooded skull – and that would better explain my feeling of unease.

I could have turned around and had a look…

If I had, I’d probably have seen him – and his pal:

Masked Camo Warriors

Masked Camo Warriors

Glad I didn’t turn around, and just kept on walking.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | photography, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Compare and contrast ‘camera offenders’

I just made a post expressing some concern over the circumstances of a man who was arrested for drink-driving, and ended being placed on the Sex Offenders Register for taking pictures in public places, albeit while under the influence of drink.

Although he did not commit any actual offence (he foolishly admitted a Breach of the Peace (basically acknowledged to be a catch-all if no actual charge exists), or break any laws, he was also handed a 5 year camera ban.

Photography can be risky in the UK – just having a camera might get you into trouble

But only a few hours later I read news of someone who was clearly doing something ‘wrong’, with covert cameras hidden in toilets, and some 700 videos obtained using secret ‘filming’:

A finance director at Glasgow’s biggest social landlord hid spy-cams in the toilets at his workplace to secretly film colleagues.

Mark Logan, 48, walked free from Glasgow Sheriff Court despite admitting to secretly filming almost 700 videos including hundreds in the Wheatley Group office toilets between May 2015 and May 2016.

Logan, of Tweedsmuir Crescent in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of sexual assault when he appeared at court in March this year.

When confronted about the videos he told bosses: “I am ashamed, I have been bottling it up for 20 years and don’t want to be gay.”

Logan, who has been placed on the sex offenders register, planted the cameras in digital clocks at the firm’s head office on Cochrane Street where he was employed until the recording devices were found last year.

The court heard Logan, who no longer works at the firm, also carried out the crime while on business trips to Edinburgh and London by filming colleagues against their knowledge.

In one video, he could be seen putting a device at the bedside table of one of his victims.

Via: Finance director secretly filmed workmates on toilet

Covert Digital Clock Camera

Covert Digital Clock Camera

As I noted in the first post, as regards the first case I mentioned…

But, I’m sorry, I don’t really see the problem with his video, taken in a public place.

Yet this second case has NO QUESTION regarding deliberate intent, planning, and clearly involved secret or covert ‘filming’…

His actions were not carried out in public, he was not even (as the first was said to be) ‘Under the influence’, and he was not doing anything that could, in any way, be said to be legitimately claimed to fall under Photographer’s Rights in the UK, or I suspect in most countries.

Yet the accused “walked free”.

This really does make the first case I mentioned look like even more of farce than it did a few hours ago, and more one of prudes or the ‘morally affronted’ making an example of someone that they think should taught a lesson.


May 9, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Photography can be risky in the UK – just having a camera might get you into trouble

In a world where we are surrounded by people constantly taking pics and recording video with their smartphones, not to mention the pervasive sea of public and private surveillance cameras and CCTV we navigate as soon as we step into the street – and now the rise and rise of the dashcam – it’s almost strange that any sort of photographer with a camera STILL seems to be fair game for being picked on.

While anyone simply holding a smartphone could easily be taking covert pics and video without it being obvious, and probably not even be noticed, it’s still the person who chooses to take a step up in quality and control and use a ‘real’ (by which I mean an obviously recognisable item such as a dSLR, mirrorless, or even compact) camera who is seen as the ‘problem’.

Previous accounts have had hired thugs security staff state that they view anyone with such a camera as a ‘professional’ who they will challenge if they are seen pointing a camera in their direction, or toward the building/property they are guarding. Past cases have shown they will confront ‘photographers’, even if on public land (the street) and restrain them, even calling police to attend to a ‘suspected terrorist’ or some such nonsense. The police SHOULD be called, but by the photographer who has been assaulted by those hired thugs.

This was brought back to my mind in the media coverage of a man (often described as a ‘pensioner’, as if that was somehow relevant):

A man was caught using a video camera to film women and children at a busy shopping centre last summer, a court has heard.

John Kane, 67, recorded footage of more than 60 women in the Central Retail Park in Graham’s Road, Falkirk, and at a nearby Tesco store.

He also secretly filmed children playing outside a nearby branch of Next.

When Kane was arrested on a separate matter he tried to flush a memory card down a toilet, prosecutor Ann Orr told Falkirk Sheriff Court.

The card was analysed and found to contain 60 short videos, lasting between 50 seconds and three minutes.

Ms Orr told the court: “The recordings appeared to be of adult females at various shops in the Central Retail Park.

“The camera operator has the camera positioned to show the females from the waist down, focusing on their bare legs and zooming in on their bottoms.”

The depute fiscal said the memory card also contained three slightly longer videos, each about three minutes, showing children aged between six and 12.

It should also be noted he was not arrested or detained for this, but:

The court heard Kane was caught when he was arrested over a drink-driving offence and taken to Falkirk Police Station in July 2016.

It was then he tried to dispose of the memory card, which was recovered by officers who spotted him acting suspiciously.

Source: Man secretly filmed women and children at retail park – STV News 16 February 2017

Pensioner secretly filmed women’s legs – BBC News 17 February 2017

So it appears he was drinking, and acted inappropriately.

But, I’m sorry, I don’t really see the problem with his video, taken in a public place.

Go onto sites such as Flickr and you’ll find the same material being shared around the world, and not classified as ‘unsafe’ or similar.

As always, I don’t want – and can’t – go into the specifics of this particular case, as I was not in court and am not privy to all the evidence and information available to the court and those involved. All I know of is the limited information provided by the media.

However, like the accounts given by the media in similar cases, I actually find myself worried almost every time I raise my camera to my eye, and consciously survey the scene firstly for children, and then for anything that I may be accused of taking ‘secret’ or ‘covert’ pics of.

If I see anything that worries me, I’ll move on or find another location to avoid any misunderstanding.

I’m not a great ‘people’ photographer anyway, preferring vacant scenes, but now I’m beginning to think this preference may have saved me trouble in the past.

Here’s the development of the case against the man concerned, as I waited until the conclusion.

He’s not only been placed on the Sex Offender’s Register (for taking pics in a public place) but also banned from having ANY camera equipment for a period of five years. He also admitted committing a Breach of the Peace – a charge also known as a ‘catch all’ when there is no specific charge to be made.

Kane, of Breton Court, Falkirk, pleaded guilty to committing a breach of the peace by operating a recording device to obtain footage of women and children in a public place without their knowledge and consent between July 15 and 22, 2016.


Where is there a law or requirement in the UK for that consent to be obtained (in a public place, and not for someone like a film star or actor whose image is their livelihood, and potentially copyright or similarly protected)?

Man who filmed women and children’s legs faces camera ban – STV News 30 March 2017

Camera ban for pensioner who secretly filmed women’s legs – BBC News 4 May 2017

As I said, I can only really repeat media reporting as I was not in court, but this case, like many others against ‘photographers’ stinks.

Am I guilty of something?

It reminded me of a pic I created a while ago, and used for a bit of fun in a Forum discussion.

Thin and Thick girls

Thin and Thick

To explain, I didn’t TAKE this pic, but actually created it some time later.

It’s a crop of one corner of the original pic, taken of the street or road that was the subject, and in which this pair happened to be walking at the time it was taken. I didn’t really notice them, merely waited until the minimum number of bodies was probably present, then took the pic.

I didn’t feel any need, or legal obligation to run after them (or anyone else caught by chance in a pic) and ask for their consent to take the pic, or ask their permission to use it later.

See this guide – I didn’t, and don’t, think I have to… EVER!

UK Photographers Rights Guide v2

But since the above was not the picture I took, but merely one sixth of it, caught purely incidentally, I wouldn’t have done so anyway.

That I could produce later this from a small crop from a larger image is entirely down to the fact that my camera has a sensor that enables such an operation.

They are wearing long coat, jeans, trousers, boots. ‘Decent’, to some.

Had they had been wearing short skirts and had bare legs? ‘Indecent’, to some.

Would I now be being traced by the police as a pervert (even though it came from a crop and was not the pic taken) and face being fined for a Breach of the Peace (per the reasons invented above) AND placed on the Sex Offenders Register?


Would, or could, I become a major criminal of some sort merely by cropping out a small section of a picture I took, and only perhaps escape that fate due to some chance decision by those in the pic on what they chose to wear that day?

Not even a problem abroad

By coincidence, I spotted this post with advice to photographers, from a non-UK blog, where there ARE often more restrictions, but even this states:

8. Don’t Ask Permission
Like I said before, as long as you in the scoop of the law, there’s nothing to worry about. Just do it. Take your camera and shoot. Don’t think that you have to ask the local or anything like that for permission. If you want to photograph some face close-up, then just do it. Don’t ask, do it.

9. Don’t Apologize
Sometime there will be some people don’t like when you photograph something. Don’t apologize. You obey the law, what you did isn’t illegal. So you did nothing wrong, and there’s nothing to apologize for.

For example, let’s take a look at what happen in London. If you’re a photographer, especially architecture photographer, its (sic) really hard to take photograph of architecture. Because the treat of terrorism. They’re not allowed to photograph, they’re demanded to delete their photos, and sometime cops called. It’s not illegal to photograph building, but many photographer there been in trouble because of it. So if that happen to you just show them you’re photograph and if they ask you to delete it, then say no. You did nothing wrong.

From: 10 Thing You Never Do In Photography

May 9, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Polar bear webcam goes live at Highland Wildlife Park

It’s nice to be able to see the polar bears having a bath at the Highland Wildlife Park, but I think their new webcam is actually more interesting.

Using similar techniques to those employed by the military in remote locations, the webcam is powered by a combination of solar and wind power, backed up by a 3-day battery, and connected to the Internet via a broadband satellite link to keep the picture coming.

For the moment, the video is only live from the morning through to the afternoon, but they keep things interesting by looping recorded video when the live stream is not available.

More on the background here: Highland Wildlife Park installs polar bear webcam – The Scotsman

And the webcam can be found here: Highland Wildlife Park ● Polar Bear Webcam

Polar bear family

Polar bear family – we see you (are you lunch?)

Below is a previous pic of the bears and their pool: Walker (R) the polar bear meets with new male companion Arktos at the Highland Wildlife Park on April 9, 2012 in Kingussie, Scotland. Arktos arrived from Hannover Zoo in Germany on April 4 to be a companion to the Park’s resident polar bear Walker. A year older than Walker and slightly larger, Arktos is four-years-old and it’s hoped that the bears will establish a relationship of friendly competitiveness.

Embed from Getty Images

May 6, 2014 Posted by | Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Does a Neighbourhood Watch with no watchers actually work?

I had to follow a slightly different path during one of my recent wanders, as the gates to a station on the route were tied shut. When I got closer I could some busy men working away on platform – but due to the lie of the land I couldn’t see what the were doing as they were above me since the road passed below the station.

But I did notice something I hadn’t spotted before, the Neighbourhood Watch warning sign shown below, attached to lamppost on the station’s perimeter:

Neighbourhood Watch sign

Neighbourhood Watch sign

I have to admit, this one left me more than a little puzzled.

After all, one of the things you need for a neighbourhood watch to work is… watchers!

In this particular case, a look to north from near this sign shows:

Neighbourhood Watch North

Looking North

To the south:

Neighbourhood Watch South

Looking South

To the east:

Neighbourhood Watch East

Looking East

And finally to the west, with the path to the station above, which is an unmanned station, and the lamppost with the sign attached:

Neighbourhood Watch West

Looking West

To be fair, this is a little tongue-in-cheek, and while there is nobody here, and few people to see that sign (I seldom see anyone else when I walk here), the actual area it covers is that of Broomhouse, for which you can find more details here:

Scheme detail- Broomhouse

Broomhouse Community Council

March 10, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , , | 2 Comments

Rats on Rum should get SatNav rather than GPS


While I wouldn’t normally advocate the extinction of any species, I do sometimes wonder about rats, which (if wild) appear to have no real purpose other than to harbour (and spread) various diseases (and other problems) which are detrimental to the human race. They don’t seem to offer any benefits to fauna around them either

I found rather ironic to read that one rat was to fitted with a GPS collar, designed to allow it to be tracked, now that rats have arrived on the Isle of Rum, probably after they managed to get there by jumping onto visiting boats.

Brown rats are recent colonists to the island and probably arrived on boats.

As on all offshore islands where rats have jumped ship, they have an adverse effect on native species.

This study is examining the significance of the Rum rats on the globally important Rum shearwater population.

Under the work one pioneering rodent has been fitted with a rat global positioning system (GPS) to track its movements over the coming weeks.

It is hoped results will be in by the end of February.

Lesley Watt, the SNH Rum reserve officer, said understanding rat behaviour was vital to assess their likely impacts on Manx shearwaters and other species.

She added: “Rats are thought to be responsible for numerous global seabird population declines through predation on eggs, chicks and adult birds, though historically they have not been thought to have an impact on the Rum Cuillin colony.

“But we are concerned that rat numbers and predation may increase in the future. So we need to know more about the ecology of the rats to inform our future management policy for this globally import Manx shearwater breeding site.

“We are all intrigued about what we’ll find out when our roaming rat data is analysed and we view the results.”

The rat-related work is part of a three-year Magnus Magnusson PhD studentship, funded by SNH and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Via Isle of Rum rat journey to be tracked on satellite – The Scotsman

The study is important, as the effect of foreign species, be they flora or fauna, can often be surprising and destructive if unchecked.

Why SatNav?

Given the theme of this story, when I saw the headline I formed a mental image of the rat population of Rum being provided with SatNav, in the hope that they would behave in the same way as some mindless zombie drives seem to when presented with the attractive display and seductive female voice giving turn-by-turn navigation instructions.

Picture the scene, as the Head Rat is carefully guided off the nearest cliff by his SatNav (after asking for directions to the nearest rat party) – and the rest of the follow his lead.

Navigation Tracker

Navigation Tracker




February 3, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Clueless security

Security search

I’ve often wondered about some of the silly stories told by those who have to deal with security on a regular basis, and whether or not they’re being exaggerated.

I’m not wondering quite as much now.

I’ve spent a week or so wandering in and out of an establishment where (serious) security is in place, mainly to stop weapons being carried into the building. Physical searches are rare, with metal detectors being in use, both walk-through, and hand-held. Those of us with passes don’t have to be checked – unless we meet untrained staff.

At the end of the first week I was entering as usual, showing my privileged pass, but a confused guard couldn’t understand it, and redirected me to the metal detectors. Since I knew quite a few items I was carrying would trigger the detectors, I declared them, unfortunately, this meant having to empty my pockets, which was bad news since most of it was a tight fit, and one item got stuck. This took so long to get free, the second guard woke up and asked where I was headed, and rechecked my pass. He told me I should have gone through the other door, and told me just to go there. I agreed, but pointed at the first guard who had sent me to the detectors,  and he shook his head and just waved me through the arch, with all my stuff in hand. This set the detector off, but at least he expected it, and made sure I wasn’t detained.

A bit silly, and down to one member of the security staff who was probably not properly trained to recognise the various types of pass, so not their fault, but their employer.

Whenever I have a security hiccup, I always think of the shocked look on the face of one security guard in a large semiconductor plant. Unusually, we were carefully searched  just before we left the factory. When he spotted a very small laptop in my case, he almost had kittens and asked if had been seen when I arrived (I had no idea, but security should have seen since my case was checked). He asked me to leave quickly and quietly, otherwise he’s lose his job!

February 2, 2014 Posted by | Surveillance | , | Leave a comment

UAV flights in Scotland 2003-2013

I received an odd nudge to go look at Hansard for July 18, 2013, “You might see something interesting.”

Being a glutton for punishment, I duly trawled through a number of pages, fought off the urge to fall asleep, then came across a question on UAVs, which I guess was where I was supposed to look.

The question was asked of the UK, but this includes Scotland, so we got our little bit of info from the same pot:

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Gillingham and Rainham of 15 May 2013, Official Report, column 221W, on unmanned aerial vehicles, on how many occasions flights of unmanned aerial vehicles have taken place in each of his Department’s reserved airspace areas within the UK in each of the last 10 years; what the purpose of each such flight was; and what type of unmanned aerial vehicle was flown on each such occasion. [R] [166283]

The reply was fairly comprehensive, as follows (I’ve highlighted the relevant line):

Mr Robathan: Available information on the number and location of flights of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), either on the military register or operating under a military flight test permit, in each of the last 10 years, is provided in the following table:

UAV type Number of flights Location Purpose
2003-06 Phoenix (1) (1) (1)
2004 Buster (2) Larkhill Trials
2006 Scan Eagle 22 Hebrides Range Capability Demonstration
2009 Desert Hawk III 126 Salisbury Plain Trials and Training
2010 Desert Hawk III 184 Salisbury Plain, Stanford, Otterburn Training and conversion to Role
Watchkeeper 11 West Wales Airport Trials
2011 Desert Hawk III 564 Salisbury Plain, Stanford, Otterburn Training
Watchkeeper 83 West Wales Airport Trials and Training
Tarantula-Hawk 3 Thorney Island Training
2012 Desert Hawk III 1,180 Salisbury Plain Training
Watchkeeper 129 West Wales Airport Trials and Training
Tarantula-Hawk 11 Thorney Island Training
Scan Eagle 5 South Coast Exercise Area Trials
2013 Desert Hawk III 555 Salisbury Plain, Stanford, Otterburn Training
Watchkeeper 6 West Wales Airport French Army Training
Watchkeeper 77 West Wales Airport Trials and Training
Black Hornet (3)n/a Lydd Camp, Lossiemouth, Salisbury Plain(4) Training

(1) The Phoenix Unmanned Air System, which retired from service in 2006, was flown in UK airspace. Records of the number, location and purpose of Phoenix sorties are no longer centrally available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. (2) Records of the number of Buster sorties are no longer centrally available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. (3) Because of the way Black Hornet is used the number of sorties and flying hours are not recorded. (4) The locations identified are the primary areas in which Black Hornet has been operated. Because of the weight and size of the air vehicle and the height at which it operates, under Military Aviation Authority regulations there is no requirement to limit flights to segregated airspace.

Via House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 18 July 2013 (pt 0007)

Of 2,948 recorded flights (certain types were not recorded) , only 22 took place on the Hebrides Range, and those were class as Capability Demonstration flights.


The UAV type is given as the Boeing ScanEagle (there is no space in the name, incorrectly shown in the Hansard table). The Royal Navy received its first unmanned ‘eye in the sky’ in a £30 million contract with Boeing to supply the ScanEagle reconnaissance aircraft. Built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing Defence UK Limited, the ScanEagle is the first maritime-specific unmanned air system capability to be delivered in support of naval operations. The pilotless plane has been used by the US Navy over the past decade and has been trialled by the Royal Navy, aboard frigate HMS Sutherland back in 2006.

ScanEagle has a wingspan of just over 3 metres (10 ft), a weight of 22 kg (48 lb), and is launched from a pneumatic catapult.

ScanEagle Launch

ScanEagle Launch – Boeing image via MoD web site

The UAV flies at about 60 knots and is piloted by a specialist team on board the ship who plan its missions, control its flights, and monitor and analyse the information it gathers using its sensors, which includes a video or infra-red camera. Data is transmitted to the team, including real-time high-resolution images, via a satellite link.


ScanEagle – Boeing image via MoD web site

It can remain airborne some 15 to 18 hours at distances of more than 70 miles from the mother ship. Boeing information on their web site indicates that later designs will substantially increase these figures.


ScanEagle – Boeing image via MoD web site

Once the mission has been completed, the UAV returns to the ship where it is captured by being flown into a cable hung vertically from an extendible arm, and is caught by hooks located at the end of each wing. It is then grappled by a recovery device and lifted on board.

ScanEagle Recovery

ScanEagle Recovery – Boeing image via MoD web site

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Aviation, military, Naval, Surveillance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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