AN RAF rescue helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing after a bird strike while on a training exercise in the Highlands.
The precautionary measure was taken by the pilots of the Sea King helicopter after the chopper was struck by a goose over Nigg Hill in Ross-shire.
The aircraft landed in a field and grounded for 16 hours while safety checks were carried out.
It was returned to RAF Lossiemouth where further checks were carried out.
A spokesman for the RAF confirmed the incident had taken place on Friday, at about 9.15pm.
Squadron Leader David Webster said: “They made a precautionary landing after they believed they struck a bird.
“Engineers were taken to the aircraft in Ross-shire and there were bird remains found down the side of it.
“There was no damage to the aircraft. The bird unfortunately came off worst.
“It was a precaution the crew quite rightly took. If you ingest part of the bird into the engine, the instrumentation can get damaged so you land straight away and get the engineers to check it.”
He added: “While the safety checks were being carried out, search and rescue flights within the area were covered by other locations, including RAF Gannet and RAF Bulmer.”
The Sea King crew returned to their base and continued to provide cover with another helicopter. A mountain rescue team guarded the aircraft while it was grounded.
The majority of bird strikes, about 65 per cent, cause little damage to the aircraft. Major accidents involving civilian aircraft are quite low, with an estimate of one accident resulting in death in one billion flying hours.