A helicopter pilot has reported having a near miss with a kite flown from a ship.

A helicopter pilot flying to an offshore oil platform in the North Sea has reported having a near miss with a ship. He claimed he found himself in close proximity to a 160m2 towing kite deployed by the cargo ship Theseus off the Dutch coast northwest of Den Helder.

Theseus’s captain confirmed that the Skysails kite was being flown on a 280m rope at an altitude of 150-200m off the vessel’s leeward side, but denied having a near miss. The incident took place well beyond the 12-mile limit and visual flight rules (VFR) applied up to an altitude of 2500ft (800 m), so it was up to the pilot, however irritated he may have been, to look out for obstacles and avoid them.

Conflict between aircraft and ships may become more common in future, with orders for Skysails towing kites being placed by fishing boat owners. Flying a towing kite as an auxiliary power source may save money, but boaters who follow suit are advised to study aviation regulations before deploying them to avoid coming into conflict with aviation authorities.