Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Drone fine is welcome news for event safety

The danger of drones falling out of the sky (and things falling from drones) has recently begun to trouble event organisers - including sports events, outdoor music events and festivals. Now Nottingham based Nigel Wilson, 42, has been convicted flying unmanned devices over built-up public places, or without direct sight of the aircraft, which is prohibited under sections 166 and 167 of the Air Navigation Order 2009. 

Wilson flew drones over Liverpool's Anfield Stadium during a match in September 2014, flying so close to the ground that police horses were “startled” and officers struggled to control them, according to a police statement. He also flew drones over Arsenal’s Emirates stadium in North London, Derby County’s iPro stadium, and Manchester City’s Etihad stadium, all on busy match days. After the Manchester incident, on the 18th October 2014 Wilson was arrested by Greater Manchester police. Wilson was bailed, but then arrested again by Metropolitan Police, who were carrying out an investigation with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), after it emerged he had also been flying drones over London landmarks including Buckingham Palace, the Shard, HMS Belfast and the Houses of Parliament.

Westminster Magistrates Court ordered him to pay a fine of £1,800 and £600 in prosecution costs and also issued a order banning him from buying, owning, or flying drones, or assisting anyone else in using drones, for two years.

Buzzfeed quotes Met Police Chief inspector Nick Aldworth saying: “Flying drones over congested areas or buildings can pose great risks to public safety and security and Wilson put many people in real danger. Today’s outcome should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of doing similar that they could end up in court if they ignore these regulations.”  

At the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Black Rock Desert last week  a GoPro camera that was meant to capture a panoramic view of Burning Man narrowly missed killing revellers when it fell from a drone, falling to the desert floor where it continued filming after being picked up and ending up in the middle of an outdoor dance party.

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