Drone pilot pleads guilty to endangering historic aircraft

Drone pilot pleads guilty to endangering historic aircraft

A drone pilot who nearly caused a serious accident at a memorial flight in Buxton has pleaded guilty to endangering an aircraft.

The incident happened at the Buxton Carnival in July 2022, during a fly-past by the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane.

At the time, the fly-past had been protected by a short-term airspace restriction which banned all other flying in the area, including drones.

Images captured on the day showed the drone flying dangerously close to the wing of the Hurricane, which was being watched by an estimated 20,000 people.

Officers worked to identify the drone operator, a 49-year-old man from Buxton, and his drone was seized as part of their investigation. Analysis showed it was flying over Buxton at the time of the fly-past.

Mark Bagguley, of Chatsworth Road, Fairfield, was arrested and subsequently charged with endangering an aircraft and operating an aircraft out of the visual line of sight.

He pleaded guilty to both charges before magistrates at Chesterfield Justice Centre today (Monday 9 January) and is set to appear again in February for sentencing.

Following the case today the Civil Aviation Authority and police are reminding drone operators of the need to fly safely and legally.

Pc Matt Moore, Flight Safety Manager for the Derbyshire Constabulary drone team said: “The way the pilot flew his drone was unsafe, illegal and totally unacceptable. “

“Anyone using a drone must follow the rules to make sure they fly safely. As a police drone unit, we know the benefits drones can bring to society but people using a drone in this way not only threaten the safety of aircraft and the public they also damage the future use of drones.

“This is for the safety of not only yourself but others around.”

Drones must be flown safely and legally, within the limits of the operating category they are flying in.

This includes operator registration, pilot competency and maintaining separation distances from members of the public, built-up areas and manned aviation. All drone operators are responsible for ensuring the drone is being flown safely and within the law at all times.

Those found to be committing offences using drones will be investigated and could face prosecution.

More information can be found at  register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code