Drones are becoming cheaper and more powerful at a rapid clip, spawning new industries and setting off alarms among local authorities who are ill equipped to police the airspace above them. There have been high-profile crashes at the White House and US Open already this year, and today the UK government sent a message when it secured a convictionagainst Nigel Wilson, a 42-year-old Nottingham man who had flown repeatedly over crowded soccer stadiums and tourist landmarks. Wilson pleaded guilt to a total of seven counts "contrary to sections 166 and 167 of the Air Navigation Order 2009." That resulted in a fine of $3683 and a two-year ban on flying, owning, or assisting anyone with operating a drone.
The closest Wilson came injuring anyone was in September of 2014, when he flew over a Liverpool soccer match and frightened horses carrying mounted police, causing them to rear up next to pedestrians on a crowded walkway. Did the brave steeds subsequently chase him down on foot? Sadly, no. Like most reckless pilots who run afoul of the law, Wilson's mistake was subsequently posting footage of the flight to YouTube.
"As drones become more widely available, it's important that anyone using this type of small aircraft understands that there are strict regulations on how and where they can be flown and that police, in partnership with the CAA, will look to prosecute anyone who does not follow these rules," said chief inspector Nick Aldworth, who is the Metropolitan Police Service's lead officer on the misuse of drones."Flying drones over congested areas or buildings can pose great risks to public safety and security and Wilson put many people in real danger. Today's outcome should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of doing similar that they could end up in court if they ignore these regulations."