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Helicopters have been there to rescue us, entertain and sometimes to enthral as they thunder or clatter overhead. MARTIN WADE delves into the Argus archive for a glimpse of some exotic visitors from the skies over Gwent.

From the 1950s to the present day these extraordinary machines have swooped onto the playing fields and hills of Gwent to the delight and fascination of us mere mortals below.

Perhaps the first chopper to visit Gwent was one flying between Liverpool and Cardiff. The British European Airways aircraft force landed in Ponthir because of bad weather. This futuristic visitor might have been expected to cause a stir, but, as the Argus told its readers: "For all the interest Ponthir took in the event, helicopters might touch down on its doorstep every day of the week.”

An Argus photographer and reporter helped the pilot, former RAF flyer Captain Ronald Dibb to take off after being delayed for eight hours. He said: "People have been most hospitable and kind". Describing his unofficial stop, he said: "we have maintained a service through some really bad weather but yesterday there was a low cloud base and fine drizzle. By the time I got here, my forward visibility was down to nil - so I set her down here."

The aircraft was a Westland Sikorsky S51 was not carrying passengers at the time.

In the 1970s and 80s, schools often had airborne visitors. One of them was a Royal Navy rescue helicopter which dropped in at St Joseph's High School in Newport in 1976. The Wessex 5 helicopter gave a demonstration of rescue techniques in front of pupils one Wednesday morning. After the display the crew landed and showed a short film and hosted a discussion with fifth and sixth formers at the school.

Rescue helicopters of the navy's sister-service, the Royal Air Force also made numerous appearances over Gwent. One dramatic airlift saw a man plucked from mudbanks on the River Wye near Chepstow after he fell 100 feet from a cliff.

The man from Sedbury had fallen from the area near the town's castle, known as the View. The helicopter then took him to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.

A Gwent school got an unexpected visit when an Abergavenny dad did the school run. Lt Cdr Daniel Clarke flew his Royal Navy Lynx helicopter onto the playing fields at Deri Primary School in 2007, where his sons George and Alex were pupils.

An altogether stranger visit in 2015 was to another Monmouthshire school when an Army Apache helicopter landed on a rugby pitch at a school in Monmouth.

The Army Air Corps Apache gunship came down at Monmouth School when the aircraft’s warning light started flashing as it flew over the town.

The two pilots from Middle Wallop airbase had completed about half of their training flight to Shawbury when their onboard computer warned them to make an emergency landing.

Luckily, one of the crew of another Apache flying in formation with them suggested his old school’s sports ground would be the perfect place to stop.

Dave Chowns, the School’s bursar, used to be an engineering officer in the Royal Air Force. He said: “I saw the helicopter circling around for a while and the next thing I knew, the pilot rang me out of courtesy to let me know they had landed in our field.

“He said the light started flashing which means ‘land immediately’, so he did.

“It’s not something that happens every day. As someone with an interest in aircraft, I think it’s lovely." he said.

The landing went smoothly and crowds soon gathered to take pictures.

The staging of the Nato summit in Newport in 2014 saw the sky filled with helicopters of all kinds. From police and media choppers to aircraft carrying soldiers, everyday was an airshow. But the highlight came when President Barack Obama flew in to the Celtic Manor in 'Marine One', the presidential helicopter, accompanied by two V-22 Osprey aircraft carrying his US Marine guards.

The three aircraft landed on one of the golf courses at the resort which was hosting the summit where the engines scorched the manicured grass.

Newport residents soon became used to helicopters buzzing back and forth over the city. Rodney Parade became a base for the aircraft and choppers were often spotted landing and taking off from the pitch.

Before the summit began, a formation of helicopters landed at the Celtic Manor as part of preparations for the Newport Nato gathering.

A police spokesperson said: “Residents should not be alarmed by these, they are essential to test our procedures alongside our mutual aid policing colleagues and partners from the military.” As we saw during that mad week in September 2014, far from being alarmed, residents were watching agog and frantically taking pictures of our hovering visitors.