A drone pilot in the UK has become the first to be fined for interfering in police operations after he flew his device into the path of a rescue helicopter.
The DJI Phantom interfered with a search and rescue mission looking for a missing woman near the River Nene in Cambridgeshire.
Sergej Miaun was found guilty of making unsafe drone flight at Peterborough Magistrates Court last Friday.
The court heard how the police pilot had to take ‘evasive action’ after Mr Miaun flew his drone underneath the helicopter.
According to a report from the South West News Service, Mr Miaun had claimed the drone was never more than 420m away from his home but, after close examination, the flight path revealed it had drifted half a mile away.
The article goes on to describe how the court heard the mis-managed flight could have caused ‘catastrophic’ consequences similar to the recent Leicester City helicopter crash which killed the club’s chairman.
Chief magistrate, Hilary Glover, said: “You could not reasonably be satisfied that the flight could be safely made. We consider this to be reckless, especially considering the possible serious consequences of your actions.”
Miaun was consequently ordered to pay £464 in fines and court fees, and was also told to give up his drone.
Speaking on how this incident is the first of its kind in the UK, acting sergeant Darren Gore said: “It should serve as a warning to all people flying drones that they need to be operated within the limits of the law.”
Liz Sugg, minister for aviation at the Department for Transport, went on to add: “The drone user responsible for this incident was not only jeopardising the lives of the officers on board this police helicopter but also those of the people they help to keep safe. This court case should send a clear message to anyone who owns or flies a drone that doing so recklessly is breaking the law and they could face a criminal prosecution.”