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Tonnes of chalk air-dropped by Chinooks for Wiltshire White Horse spruce-up

One of Wiltshire’s White Horses has been given a makeover - with help from the military and local volunteers.

More than 40 tonnes of chalk was specially flown in by the Royal Air Force to facilitate the restoration of the Alton Barnes landmark, which took place earlier this week.

The horse, which is approximately 180ft high and 160ft long, was in dire need of a spruce-up - having last been chalked in 2009.

But with the structure inaccessible by road, it was the idea of 11-year-old Molly Sutherland, a pupil at a nearby primary school, to ask for the military’s support.

The military dropped off more than 40 tonnes of chalk in Chinook helicopters. Credit: ITV News West Country

Over 100 tons of chalk were moved by the Chinook onto the sloping ground, where an army of children, teachers and volunteers were on hand to rake over the new coat, a fitting way to mark the end of their time at primary school.

Molly and her classmates arranged for the chalk to be donated to the project from the local building company, Lovell Construction. She gained support from the local Parish Council, the Prime Minister, and Sir David Attenborough, whose responses she proudly read out in a school assembly about the project.

– Flt Lt Kinsey-Jones, Pilot 18(B) Sqn

The chalk was dropped off by Chinook helicopters, which are well-suited for transporting unusual loads.

The helicopters are well-suited for transporting unusual loads. Credit: ITV News West Country

The aircraft’s twin rotors and triple hook assembly can lift almost its own body weight and deliver its load to very precise locations.

Following the drop-off, the chalk was raked across the monument to give it a fresh, new look.

The White Horse at Alton Barnes dates back to 1812. Credit: ITV News West Country

Lee Emery sent us some footage of the clean-up operation in the 1960s. His father worked for Alton Barnes farmer Guy Stratton who filmed the community getting together to restore the White Horse. They did things differently then!

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