Gatwick Drone Incident
On this day two years ago...
On 19 December 2018, in the evening a new age exploded in the media: fear of the drones. First time in the history an international airport was shut for almost 3 days due to drones. The mystery is still unresolved, neither suspects nor those drones found.
It was unforgettable, the world media was loud with this incident. More than 100 thousand people have been stuck at the airport. 170 drone sights were reported throughout the time. And we knew something has been changed forever.
The investigation and further sights were still happening, when a very emotional dispute erupted in the Parliament. MPs decided to punish the whole community, because somebody always has to pay. And our community received the bill. And we still pay, because there was the evidence: Remote Controlled Aircrafts can shut an entire airport down. We have got strict regulations, Flyer IDs, Operator IDs, competence tests, stricter limitations where and when we can fly despite that the conventional RC community has a very high, 100+ years safety record. We are aware, these regulations would have been taken in place anyway, thanks to flying shopping bags, many reckless ignorants with their toy drones, just perhaps in an eased form without this incident.
Not to forget, the people at BMFA, SAA, LMA and other associations fought for us to ease the proposals, finally making the regulation not good, just adoptable in the daily life. But after a 100 years long freedom, our community is now chained down. Obviously these rules don't prevent anybody with bad intention to do anything they want, just the law-obeying modeller's life became harder.
The entire investigation costing 800 thousand pounds lasted for one and a half year: and nothing and nobody was found. Only an unlucky couple in Crawley was charged, but no evidence found, they were released shortly after their arrest. Since then no suspect, no charge even no evidence were found. It was even sadder, this incident happened exactly 30 years after the Lockerbie disaster, grounding thousands of flights from and to Gatwick Airport.
Questions remain open. Who and how could block an international airport for almost three days? Was there anyone at all or it was a covering story of a system failure, which could cost millions to the airport, as conspiracy theorists think? Who could win over this incident or its consequences? What could be the motivation? Was it a demonstration of the necessity of a drone prevention system? Was it a mass panic generating multiple false sights?
That is still not clear how 170 reports could happen, next to tens of thousands, task forces, media workers, and not even one video or a photo was recorded and taken about a single drone sight whole time.