Court clears pilot who `buzzed' home

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The Independent Online
An RAF pilot, court-martialled for "buzzing" his parents' home village in his Hawk jet, was cleared by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Nicholas Paine, a member of 100 Squadron, had been fined pounds 500 and severely reprimanded in March 1996 for "flying an aircraft in a manner causing or likely to cause unnecessary annoyance to persons on the ground in the vicinity at the time".

The Crown alleged that, after a simulated attack on RAF Manston in Kent, Mr Paine departed from his flight plan and passed low over the village of Staple - population 600 - as a "frolic" to show off to his parents.

It was accepted the village was within his authorised low-level area and that he did not descend below 250 feet.

But some local residents were not happy. Dee Cullen, of Animal Farm, Staple, said the sound of the jet was "horrendous". She complained to Manston and received a short apology from Mr Paine on her answerphone.

Mr Paine told the Court that, during his birthday celebrations, his father asked if he could fly over the house. He agreed because it would enable him to do a permitted target run and free navigation. It was not a "frolic", but a serious part of his attack exercise - a far more difficult task than the "easy" attack on Manston.

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