A Driving Instructor's Blog

DroneI’ve been thinking about getting a drone for some time. If I did, I would also take the necessary flying courses to make sure I was fully legal and capable of handling it. And I wouldn’t break the Law with it.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will be aware of the chaos at Gatwick over the weekend before Christmas, where thousands of flights were cancelled or affected by someone flying what appears to be a commercial drone (or drones) into the airport boundaries. The disruption meant that tens of thousands of people were screwed for Christmas – they missed holidays, connections, funerals, and so on.

Whoever is responsible deserves to be flung, kicking and screaming, into the intake of a 747 engine just so they – and anyone like them – can see what the effects of a large object being sucked into an engine could do.

The editors of certain newspapers and current affairs TV shows – and I’m referring to both present and retired editors, here – should be flung in with them.

The chaos at Gatwick is hard to comprehend, but once you start to get your head around even a small part of it, you begin to realise how ineffectual the police were in handling it (more on this later, as it seems they may have actually been the cause of later disruption). I don’t necessarily mean that they were handling it badly (well, wait until later). Just that they didn’t have a clue how to do so, and so didn’t handle it at all. And that perhaps explains partly why they arrested a couple and took them in for questioning.

Precisely why these two were arrested – vague stories suggest a neighbour “tipped off” the police – has not yet been made clear. Of far greater importance is the fact that they have been released without charge. Not “under investigation”, or “on bail”. But without charge. That means that they were not involved in any way with the problems at Gatwick.

I stress at this point that the police didn’t do anything wrong. But the press did. Yet again.

You see, the police simply reported that a 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman from Crawley had been taken in for questioning. However, reporters from trash publications such as The Mail on Sunday and The Sun (not to mention Piers Morgan on TV) crawled out of their sewers and U-bends and managed to obtain the names of the two arrestees from small-minded neighbours. And then they published those names, along with photographs, and went as far as it is possible to go towards saying that they were guilty without actually stating it. And they now find themselves right in the middle of yet another libel action.

The problem is that it doesn’t matter how much they get paid in damages. Mud sticks, and you can pretty much guarantee that there will be at least one twat out there who still believes they were guilty, and who could decide to take their own style of revenge. No amount of money can compensate for having to live with that. They’ve already had a ruined Christmas, but that is likely to be small fry compared to what they could endure. When certain sections of the press gets things wrong, to save face they usually tend to work on the principle that even if someone wasn’t guilty of one thing, there’s bound to be something they’re guilty of if you dig deep enough.

The Sun’s former political editor, Trevor Kavanagh, reckons the papers were right to name the two arrested people. It’s good to see him keeping down his standards into retirement. I didn’t think he could go any lower, but he’s proven me wrong. He reckons that by potentially destroying these two people’s lives, the police found out more quickly that they weren’t responsible, and that that’s a good thing. What a prat!

Since then, though, the situation has lurched from one farce to another. At one point, the police seemed to suggest that there might not have been a drone in the first place. They backtracked on that, but in the last day it has emerged that the latter sightings, which caused further flight suspensions even closer to Christmas, could actually have been police drones – which Sussex Police had started using as part of whatever it was they were pretending to do to sort the problem out. I mean, come on. They were flying drones, and couldn’t identify them as theirs when people reported seeing them? And that’s even before you ask what the hell they thought launching drones would achieve by way of bringing the matter to a suitable conclusion.

As it stands, 10 days after the first sighting and airport lockdown, no one is any closer to finding out what happened and who did it, and there is still the whiff of a possibility that no one did anything – so let’s go and arrest two innocent people and let the press loose on them.

Oh, and ban all drones.

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