Gatwick airport is the second largest airport in the United Kingdom and is located just about 30 miles south of London. The entire airport has come to a standstill since Wednesday night, stranding as many as ten thousand holiday travelers, because of multiple reports of a drone seen flying in the area. What type of drone? No one seems to be quite sure. The Daily Mail reports this is the first video of the drone flying over the airport:
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) December 20, 2018
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling tells the BBC that this is not a toy drone but some kind of commercial drone which goes away for a while but every time the airport starts to re-open it returns.
So far, it seems most effort has been put into trying to locate the drone operator to stop the problem that way:
"I'm absolutely convinced it's a deliberate act to disrupt #Gatwick Airport" – Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw says more than 20 police units are searching for the drone operatorhttps://t.co/wDW0Rtnkq1 pic.twitter.com/Fh98WmaCjL
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) December 20, 2018
The problem with this plan is that commercial drones can often operate up to several miles away. That means the search area for the pilot of this drone is going to be a circle at least 10k in diameter and maybe even larger than that. A short while ago the BBC reported that police are considering a new strategy: shoot it down.
Police say they are considering trying to shoot down a drone that has shut Gatwick Airport for more than 24 hours…
[Detective Chief Superintendent] Jason Tingley said shooting the drone was discounted earlier but is a “tactical option” and something which is being “continually reviewed”.
The Army has been deployed, but it was confirmed the airport would remain shut into Friday.
“We have got some estimations around the size of the drone, what it looks like,” Det Ch Supt Tingley said.
“We haven’t yet identified the specific make and model of the drone. That will influence our tactical options.”
So far no one seems to think this has anything to do with terrorism. The assumption seems to be that some teenager is doing this for the lulz. In the meantime, the drone has created a nightmare for as many as ten thousand stranded travelers, many of whom were taking vacations or visiting family over Christmas.
I suspect the person responsible will get caught, probably after bragging to one of his idiot friends. It’s a shame this is happening though because while this particular drone pilot may not be a terrorist, he’s probably just given terrorists around the world a brainstorm about how to bring entire nations to a standstill for a few thousand dollars.
Here’s a CBS news report on the situation.