Drones: how not to kill people with your Christmas present

Most rules are obvious, but important

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 24 December 2014 15:43
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The report followed a number of unexplained, but apparently co-ordinated, flights of tiny, unmanned vehicles over French nuclear installations (AFP/Getty)
The report followed a number of unexplained, but apparently co-ordinated, flights of tiny, unmanned vehicles over French nuclear installations (AFP/Getty)

Drones might be this year’s must-have Christmas present — but used wrongly, they can be a dangerous machine, putting yourself and others’ lives at risk.

The news that a drone had flown within feet of a Heathrow planes’ wing, putting it at serious risk of collision, was just the most recent high-profile reminder that drones are high risk. And closer to the ground, a TGI Friday’s drone crashing into the face of a photographer was another sign that they must be piloted with care.

Aviation authorities around the world have put out warnings to those receiving drones for Christmas — this year’s must-have present — and to follow instructions for how to pilot the little flying machine carefully.

The key messages for recreational users of unmanned aircraft are to ensure that it always stays within eyesight, to fly the drone no higher than 400 feet and to stay in clear and safe areas. That means staying out of the path of manned aircraft, including staying at least 5 miles from any airport, and to keep the drone at least 25 feet away from any person or property.

Not flying drones while drunk or on drugs is perhaps and obvious but an important rule — and likewise to leave the drone at home if the weather is bad, including high winds or reduced visibility.

Some places have local drone flying clubs — which can advise on drone safety as well as helping each observe for each other, and keep the plane safe.

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