Nottingham drone flyer will face trial

NigelWilson

A Bingham man, who is accused of flying his drone over the City Ground and other UK landmarks, is facing trial in the first prosecution of its kind.

Nigel Wilson, of Kestrel Drive, denied breaking air traffic regulations by not maintaining visual contact with his drone when he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

As well as allegedly sending the drone over Forest’s home turf, the 42-year-old is also accused of flying it over Anfield and the Emirates, as well as games at Derby County and Leicester City.

On another occasion the drone is said to have passed the Queen Victoria Memorial near Buckingham Palace, the court heard.

Wilson has been charged with 17 offences related to allegedly flying a drone in contravention of Air Navigation Order.

Dressed all in black, Wilson entered not guilty pleas to 15 allegations of breaching Rules of the Air regulations.

However, he admitted failing to maintain unaided visual contact with his drone on two occasions, when he flew it over the north bank of the Thames and Manchester City’s Etihad stadium.

Prosecutor Edward Aydin said: “The fear of the police and Civil Aviation is it [the drone] is going to fall out of the sky and hit someone.”

But the defence lawyer George Wills said: “The issues are who was in control of the aircraft at the times”.

District Judge Quentin Purdy said he would set a trial date at a case management hearing this afternoon(Fri).

Most of the alleged offences at football grounds took place during matches, including the north London derby between Arsenal and Spurs, attended by 60,000 people on 27 September, and Liverpool’s game with Aston Villa on 13 September, which attracted a crowd of 45,000 people.

Under the Air Navigation Order 2009, fliers must get permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to send the aircraft into the air over or within 150 metres of any congested area, over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons, or within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.

The drone operator must also maintain direct, unaided visual contact with it to avoid collisions with other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures.

Even small UAVs can weigh around 7kg and so can cause damage or injury if they plummet to the ground.

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