People have been complaining worldwide about drone regulations coming into force. Register this, pay for that, can’t fly there anymore… Well, people like British drone pilot Mark Bagguley are why. The BBC reports he’s been fined £3,000 and given a six-month suspended sentence for flying his drone over a crowd while a NOTAM was in effect, dangerously close to aircraft.
At Buxton Carnival in England, a World War II Hurricane aircraft was doing a flyby as part of a show when visitors spotted what they thought was a bird flying near the plane. One visitor proceeded to photograph it, and it wasn’t until he got home and looked at them on the computer that he released it was a drone. After police saw them, they used social media to track down the offender.
The hurricane aircraft is traditionally made from wood and flies at a velocity of around 200 knots (approximately 230mph). Hitting anything in the air, whether a bird or a drone, on any part of the plane would be disastrous for the aircraft and the pilot. The BBC reports that there were 15-20,000 people at Buxton Carnival at any given time. If the drone had hit the plane, the results could be catastrophic.
Even without the potential risks to human life, only twelve airworthy Hurricane aircraft are left in the world. The one involved in this incident is one of two operated by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
The incident occurred in June of last year and neither the police nor the Hurricane pilot knew that the drone was in the air at the time. They found out after an unnamed attendee photographing the carnival looked at the images once back home on the computer. He reported what he saw in his images to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as he knew the UK drone regulation well enough to know this wasn’t right.
The CAA told him to contact the police, which he then did. After police searched social media and discovered images Bagguley had taken of the carnival using his drone Bagulley was arrested, and his drone seized. He initially denied the offence but later admitted fault after being presented with the telemetry data from his drone and the photographic evidence against him.
The 49-year-old Bagguley was charged with endangering an aircraft, pleading guilty in a Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court hearing. He also admitted to operating an aircraft outside of visual line of sight. He was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £450 and a victim surcharge of £154. He was also sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 100 hours of unpaid work (community service). He is being electronically monitored with a curfew at his home address.
Even with regulations, people will still do stupid stuff, as Mr Bagguley has proven. And he also serves as an example of what happens when you don’t follow them.
[via BBC News]