A royal helicopter carrying the Countess of Wessex narrowly avoided a disastrous collision with a glider, it has been revealed.
Pilots on the aircraft, which was flying at 173mph, were forced to take emergency evasive action after coming within 500ft of the glider during the incident, three miles east of Cheltenham.
The AugustaWestland AW109 helicopter – nicknamed Heir Force One – was 4,400ft above the ground when the co-pilot saw a glider directly overhead flying in the same direction.
The terrifying close shave was revealed in an official report by the UK Airprox Board.
It stated that both the glider and helicopter pilots shared responsibility for the near miss, both of whom have not been named.
The report said: “The AW109 pilot took avoiding action by turning left to ensure separation. He noted that had they maintained course the risk of collision was high.”
It was unlikely that the glider pilot saw the helicopter until it passed, the report added.
The Countess of Wessex – who is Prince Edward’s wife Sophie – was undertaking an official engagement when the incident took place.
It happened at about 3.30pm on July 5, 2017, after Sophie had watched a farming demonstration in Overbury.