Over the past couple of days, authorities have been on a manhunt for a couple of drone operators near London’s Gatwick Airport.
The airport has been completely shut down because of the interruptions in flight operations due to the threat of drones in the area. The only good thing about this is that it wasn’t Heathrow that was closed. Here is the official statement from the airport this evening (yesterday in the UK):
Update, just as I was writing this article, the airport has reopened for flights and the first flight has landed after over a day. It seems like Police have shot down the drone or caught the operator.
While some might argue that drones do not physically endanger planes due to their size (I know ridiculous), it is important to realize it just takes a momentary lapse in concentration for a pilot to make a fatal error.
While I myself love to fly drones for creative purposes (for my travel vlogs), I usually avoid flying over populated areas or places where I find that I might potentially annoy anyone. Under no circumstances will I fly anywhere near an airport (I personally make sure I’m 1.5-2 times farther then the recommended distance from an airport).
With the increasing number of drone sightings lately and one even hitting a British Airways plane last year, I have kind of begun to wonder how long anyone will be able to operate them. It certainly feels like recreational drone operators are living on borrowed time. One major incident is all it will take for all drones to be banned.
Of course there are preventative measures that can be put into place such as a integrating drones into ATC, like what Switzerland did, but not every government will have the same level of patience. After all, it is not necessary for you to operate a drone.
Anyway if you operate a drone, I implore you to operate it with more care and stay clear of airports and helipads. It’s better for everyone to be allowed to operate in a small number of areas rather than not being allowed at all. Remember no shot is worth endangering a life.