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Be aware of Wiltshire Air Ambulance when you fly your drone

Did you receive a drone as a Christmas present? We hope you’re out there enjoying flying it. Please do spare a thought for Wiltshire Air Ambulance flying in the skies and help to keep us all safe.

Our safety manager, helicopter pilot Nicky Smith, offers advice to people who own drones.

Why can drones be dangerous?

We want drone users to have fun with their drones but to do so safely and legally.

However, if a drone was to strike a helicopter it is likely to cause significant damage due to the solid metal parts it has and a solid battery.

The last thing we want is for drones to damage our helicopter so we can’t do our important lifesaving work.

Another air ambulance in the UK had a near miss with a drone which was flying above the legal height limit in September last year. It was only through the vigilance of the front seat paramedic and the pilot that a collision was avoided.

The law

Drone users in the UK are now required by law to register their drones and pass a theory test. Failure to do so could result in a £1,000 fine.

The Civil Aviation Authority has also published The Drone Code to assist drone users to fly safely.

The code includes not flying drones above 400 feet, always keeping your drone in direct sight and not flying drones near airfields or airbases. Failure to do so could result in criminal prosecution.

Steps you can take to fly your drone safely

A drone is much smaller than a helicopter and it can blend into the background. It’s really important that people who operate drones can see them when they are flying. If they can’t see their drone when it’s flying then they won’t be able to see other aircraft, such as helicopters, flying either.

Due to the nature of our work we often land and take off in residential areas. We spend more time below 400 feet than most other aircraft so this is another important factor for drone users to be aware of.

If you are flying your drone and see our helicopter or any other aircraft, please land your drone and wait for us to land or fly away from your area.

We are not trying to stop people flying their drones but we want them to do so responsibly and safely.

More information available online

Head to https://dronesafe.uk/ where you can register your drone and download a copy of The Drone Code.

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