Captain completes fantastic trip

IT WAS a journey that took 18 days with 28 fuel stops, but a determined pilot has finally completed a mission to fly a helicopter all the way from Aberdeen to South America.

Captain Andrew Smith, 35, from Aberdeenshire, works for CHC Helicopters, which normally transports staff to offshore oil rigs and platforms.

But the unusual request came when Capt Smith was asked to take one of the helicopters - a Eurocopter EC225 - out to Cabo Frio in Brazil. He spent a week planning for the trip with co-pilot Dave Claire and engineer Patrick Atkins, which he says was an "amazing adventure".

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Capt Smith said: "I've never completed any journey this long, with the route we had to take to allow for refuelling stops it meant the distance we covered was actually further than flying to Australia.

"Our supplies could only last just under three hours, but I'm glad we got to stop in so many places as some of the things we saw were just phenomenal."

When flying over Iceland on the first day of the expedition, the team was granted permission to circle over Eyjafjallajkull - the volcano which had caused chaos for airlines and passengers during the summer.

Capt Smith said: "We got great views of the volcano - which was really lucky as it is often shrouded in clouds. Although it was on the first day it was definitely one of my highlights, it was just amazing."