Drone pilot prosecuted for endangering BBMF Hurricane

A drone pilot has pleaded guilty to endangering an aircraft after flying a drone near a BBMF Hawker Hurricane during a flypast.

The incident, which the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says is one of the most serious seen in the UK, occurred on July 9, 2022, during a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) over the Buxton Carnival in Derbyshire.

The drone pilot was arrested and subsequently charged with endangering an aircraft and operating a drone out of visual line of sight.

He pleaded guilty to both charges before magistrates at Chesterfield Justice Centre yesterday (January 9) and is set to appear again next month for sentencing.

Following the incident, the CAA is reminding drone users of the need to fly safely and follow the rules or face serious consequences.

Wearing its newly applied No 303 Squadron markings, complete with red sash on the rear fuselage, BBMF Hurricane IIc LF363 on its way back to Coningsby with Sqn Ldr Mark Sugden at the controls on April 21, 2022. It is not known which of the BBMF’s Hurricanes were involved in the near miss with a drone.
Wearing its newly applied No 303 Squadron markings, complete with red sash on the rear fuselage, BBMF Hurricane IIc LF363 on its way back to Coningsby with Sqn Ldr Mark Sugden at the controls on April 21, 2022. It is not known which of the BBMF’s Hurricanes were involved in the near miss with a drone. MoD

Jonathan Nicholson, assistant director at the CAA, said: “Flying a drone and endangering an aircraft in this way is totally unacceptable. Drone users have an obligation to understand and follow the rules. While flying a drone can be great fun, it also comes with significant responsibilities. People need to check airspace before they fly their drone and only fly where it is safe and legal to do so.

“Airspace restrictions, like the one in place for this case, apply to even the smallest drones, so it’s really important that people check before they fly. When you use a drone you’re sharing the airspace with many other types of aviation, so it’s vital that drone users consider the safety of everyone when flying.”

A Royal Air Force (RAF) spokesperson commented: “The RAF regularly conducts essential low flying training across the UK, drones operating in the vicinity of our aircraft can offer a significant threat to their safety and can be extremely challenging for our aircrew to spot and take avoiding action. Therefore, if a drone operator becomes aware of any military aircraft flying in their vicinity, we would request that they cease flying until the aircraft has passed.”