Soccer Squad Under Aerial Surveillance

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The British media is buzzing about a covert video and photo surveillance mission that’s worthy of an Ian Fleming novel. But unlike a Fleming book, there’s nothing as paltry as the future of mankind at stake. This plot has shaken and stirred something far more important—soccer (or, as they prefer to call it in Britain, football). According to the Daily Mirror, a highly modified Cessna 172 has been flying over the heavily guarded training complex of Manchester United as the lads practice and set tactics for future matches. United appears to be the team to beat in Britain’s top league and the video and still pictures taken “during the astonishing spying mission could be invaluable to rival clubs,” the newspaper speculated. The blue-on-white Cessna has been spotted at least three times over the practice field, and an “aviation source” told the newspaper it’s no ordinary Skyhawk. The unidentified expert says the plane (G-CBME, registered to Skytrax Aviation) has “a $200,000 engine which operates on jet fuel” that’s quieter so it doesn’t attract as much attention as a conventional engine. It’s also got $100,000 worth of camera gear mounted in the belly, the source said. “It has been deliberately modified so it looks like a little sight-seeing pleasure plane but it is equipped for some of the best surveillance operations in Britain." Reporters followed a man from the plane meeting another man in a van with blacked-out windows where the images were presumably handed over.