RAF Chinook helicopters spotted flying over Preston, Leyland, Chorley and East Lancashire

Military helicopters have been spotted flying over Lancashire in recent days – but what are they up to?

The giant choppers are RAF Chinooks and they’ve been buzzing through the skies over Preston, South Ribble, Chorley and east Lancashire on a daily basis since last week.

In videos, the helicopters appear to fly in formation as they noisily chop their way through clear blue skies and over rooftops.

Yesterday, they were spotted over Samlesbury, Hoghton and Blackburn and this morning (Tuesday, July 19) they were sighted over Burscough in West Lancs.

Others have spotted them over Preston, Leyland, Chorley, Burnley and Pendle since they first took to the skies on Monday, July 11.

The RAF says the public should not be alarmed at the sight of the large helicopters, with the aircraft often seen flying as a pair or in a group of three.

Lancashire also hosted the Chinooks for two weeks last month when they became a daily sight as pilots criss-crossed the county’s skies as part of their training.

What the RAF says about the Chinooks over Lancs

The RAF said student pilots are conducting training exercises in the helicopters over Lancashire this week. Copyright: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2020

The Chinooks are based at RAF Woodvale near Formby, Merseyside and are taking part in Exercise KUKRI DAWN.

This includes operational flying training over Lancashire where aircrews are “honing operational skills in a testing warfighting scenario”.

The course qualifies pilots and crewmen to operate the Chinook helicopter on operations within the UK and when deployed overseas.

Student pilots are serving with 28(AC) Squadron and are usually based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.

Lisa Blake snapped this picture of RAF aircrew onboard one of the Chinooks as it passed over Blackburn on Monday (July 18). Credit: Lisa Blake

Training started on Monday, July 11 and is due to finish on Friday (July 22). The aircraft - which can carry up to 55 troops - will be flying between 9am to 5pm, with no night flying expected.

An RAF spokesman said: “RAF Chinook helicopters from 28 Squadron based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire are conducting operational flying training at and around RAF Woodvale, near Formby in Merseyside.”

The aircraft is primarily used for trooping, resupply and battlefield casualty evacuation.

The UK Government recently agreed to invest £1.4 billion into modernising its Chinook fleet over the next 10 years. The deal will see British forces benefit from another 14 of the latest iconic heavy-lift helicopters, in addition to the 60 Chinooks already in service.