A fully-licensed UK drone operator has just been arrested and held for flying his drone near London Gatwick airport, but within the Civil Aviation Authority rules.
Police arrested Eddie Mitchell, a journalist and cameraman while shooting footage of a caravan fire that killed three people on Tuesday, in Newchappel, Surrey, which is about 7 miles away from Gatwick Airport. The area he was arrested is within the airport controlled airspace but not the no-fly zone that protects aircraft taking off and landing at the busy airport. Police arrested Mitchell while his drone was still in the air – which is incredibly dangerous in itself – and then managed to land it. Another photographer at the scene described them performing “some dangerous manoeuvres” during their attempts to land it.
Mitchell tweeted an image later of his release papers after being held for five hours for “breach of the peace”. He was eventually released without charge. According to his tweets, his drone remains in the possession of the police, who have yet to release it back to him. He maintains that he was well outside the 50m the CAA requires drones fly from people and property.