A drone pilot who nearly caused a serious accident at a memorial flight in Buxton has been fined £3000 and handed a six-month suspended sentence for endangering an aircraft.
Mark Bagguley, of Chatsworth Road, Fairfield, pleaded guilty to charges of endangering an aircraft and operating an aircraft out of the visual line of sight in January.
It is after he flew his drone close to the wing of an RAF Hurricane during a Battle of Britain memorial fly-past at the Buxton Carnival in July 2022.
At the time of the event a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) had been issued that warned people about the fly-past, and people who fly drones are meant to take notice of these.
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, and his drone was seized as part of the investigation. Analysis showed it was flying over Buxton at the time of the fly-past.
The 49-year-old appeared at Derby Crown Court today and was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months and fined £3000 plus £450 costs, and a £187 victim surcharge.
He must also complete 100 hours of unpaid work and will be subject to a curfew until May next year.
PC Matthew Moore, Flight Safety Manager for the Derbyshire Constabulary drone team said: “We welcome this sentence today as it reflects the serious risk this posed to the public.
“The way the pilot flew his drone was unsafe, illegal, and totally unacceptable. His actions could have resulted in very serious consequences should the drone have collided with the plane and cause the pilot to lose control.”
PC Moore added: “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.