Drone pilot admits endangering historic plane during RAF flypast

A drone pilot has pleaded guilty to endangering a historic aircraft during an RAF memorial flypast in front of an estimated 20,000 people.

Mark Bagguley was in charge of the device when it flew dangerously close to the wing of a Hawker Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight RAF display group, which was flying over Buxton, Derbyshire, as part of the town’s annual carnival on July 9 last year.

The drone was later seized and Bagguley, 49, was arrested as the flypast had a short-term air space restriction which banned other flights in the area, including by drones.

Bagguley, of Chatsworth Road, Fairfield, pleaded guilty at Chesterfield Justice Centre on Monday to endangering an aircraft and operating an aircraft out of the visual line of sight.

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.”

Bagguley will be sentenced at Derby Crown Court on February 9, in what Derbyshire Constabulary said is the first case of its kind for the force and believed to be one of the first cases nationally.

The force reiterated the need for drones to be flown safely and legally, which is the responsibility of the operator.