London's only commercial helicopter landing site, on the Thames south bank at Battersea, is preparing for unprecedented - but tightly organised - traffic flows during the Olympic Games.
(picture by Mark Wagner)
Now called the Barclays London Heliport (BLH), it's been there since 1959, just upstream of Battersea Bridge, looking across the river to Chelsea Harbour.
London does't exactly have a love affair with helicopters. No other site in the city has been allowed to compete with Battersea since the floating landing site on the north bank at Trigg Lane in the City of London was closed in 1985.
In fact when the UK was bidding for the Olympics, it was made clear from the start that, for environmental reasons, the Olympic Park was not going to have helicopter access. And it doesn't.
What's more, people who charter helicopters to get to London at the time of the Olympics will not be permitted to follow the river eastward even to look at the Park from above. For security reasons no air movements will be allowed downstream (east) of Battersea Bridge, which you can see in the picture (above).
Operators wanting to access BLH during the Games have to be registered as known users by 1 July, and book slots with the heliport. About 130 movements - over and above normal traffic (which maxes out at 22 an hour) - are already booked, and there will be more. Operators familiar with Battersea will know that, even under normal conditions, VFR routeings in and out are strictly enforced, and this more than ever will be the case, because BLH is in the Olympic Prohibited Zone (see chart)
"Prohibited" is a misnomer, since operations with a booked slot and a flight plan pre-clearance can use the airspace on strict routeings.
So when Olympic-bound passengers fly into BLH from business airports like Biggin Hill, Cambridge, Farnborough or Oxford, what next? Because Battersea is well to the west of London's West End, and the Olympic Park is well to the east of the City of London, on the River Lea just south of Hackney Marshes.
Well, it's either a limo with no traffic privileges, or a charterable river taxi. A new company called Water Chariots has just set up to offer whatever level of luxury you have in mind.
It will not be a fast journey to the Olympic Park - 90min along the Thames and then up the River Lea - but certainly a low-stress way of travelling and a great way to see London's riversides.