Wiltshire Air Ambulance's chief pilot said a laser attack on his helicopter could have ended in catastrophe.

Matt Wilcock was piloting the charity’s Bell 429 helicopter with two paramedics aboard when they were attacked in Chippenham on Thursday night.

They were forced to abort a training flight and landed at Chippenham’s Hardenhuish School at 7.30pm.

Mr Wilcock said: “It was just shocking behaviour by some idiot. It was very deliberate; it was not accidental.

“Shining a laser at an aircraft is exceptionally irresponsible and dangerous. It can damage our eyes which could then potentially place the aircraft at risk because we would be unable to see.

“This incident happened while we were undertaking a training flight, but had we been responding to a medical emergency then we would not have been able to land and give critical care.

“Whoever it was who shone the laser at our aircraft needs to understand the potentially catastrophic effect their actions could have had.

“We could have been tasked to attend their family member or friend and we wouldn’t have been able to deliver our life-saving skills.”

Mr Wilcock, 43, who has worked for the charity for the past five years, said: “A very bright green laser was persistently shone at the helicopter. Someone squirted the laser at us repeatedly in 5-10 second bursts.

“We took evasive action by turning way. The light was shone about four times and we had to abort the landing.”

The person with the laser continued to shine it at the helicopter as the crew departed the area towards Corsham.

It is believed the laser was being pointed from the vicinity of Ladyfield Road, Lackham Circus or Stockwood Road, Chippenham.

Mr Wilcock added: “Someone will brag about this. People will find out who it is. I would urge the local community to inform on the person responsible.”

The crew returned to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance airbase at Semington, near Melksham, at 7.45pm. Following the incident, they had an eye test which confirmed they were fit to continue their shift.

WAA chief executive David Philpott said: “The laser attack on our helicopter is shocking.

“As well as endangering our crew onboard and our helicopter, this could have impacted on our ability to respond to a life-threatening emergency.”

Shining a laser at an aircraft is a criminal offence carrying an unlimited fine and up to five years in prison.

If you can help Wiltshire Police contact 101.