AIRBORNE police officers located three missing walkers on hills above Cardross on Friday evening.

Police Scotland's Air Support Unit was asked to help officers on the ground from the service's West Dunbartonshire division after one of the walkers called police at around 5.45pm to report that the group had become lost in cold, wet and dark conditions.

The Glasgow-based air support unit was mobilised at 6.20pm, and officers on board the police helicopter used a thermal imaging camera to locate the trio around 25 minutes later on a patch of remote moorland near the village and to direct colleagues on the ground to the location.

Inspector Allan Kirk from Helensburgh police office said: "Following enquiries, and with assistance of the police air support unit, the males were located by officers at 6.45pm and they were provided with a lift home."

The air support unit, based at the Glasgow Helipad, uses an Airbus H135-T3 helicopter and pilot supplied by Babcock.

The police presence on board consists of one officer at the front of the helicopter, operating the thermal imaging camera and tasking the aircraft, and one at the rear, in charge of navigation, communication with officers on the ground, photography and visual searching.

According to Police Scotland's website, most of the unit's work involves searching for missing persons, though the helicopter can also be used to support vehicle pursuits, searches for suspects and command and control of major events such as football matches, parades and demonstrations.