Police release illegal drone footage as pilot fined £1,500 for flying over rock festival

East Midlands Airport seen in illegal drone video
(Image credit: Derbyshire Consabulary)

Daniel Cesare was found to have flown his drone recklessly and was fined £1,500 (around $1,900 or AU$2,930) by a court on August 25. He flew his DJI Mavic 2, over the Download Festival – headlined by acts including Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, and Metallica. This despite the festival having crowds of nearly 130,000 and being held at Donington Park in the UK – which is in East Midlands Airport's exclusion zone.

The magistrates court heard that the flights took place on June 9 and 10 of this year. He pleaded guilty and was fined £1,008 for the crime itself. Cesare was also fined for failing to display a registration number on his drone, and fined a £403 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

PC Stephen Booth of Derbyshire Police said: "Twice he took his aircraft into the restricted airspace of East Midlands Airport, on the first occasion as an aircraft was in the process of landing."

"He showed disregard for the tens of thousands of people attending the Download Festival and their safety, flying the drone out of his line of sight ran the risk of him losing control of that aircraft which could've had catastrophic consequences."

To be honest I'm a little surprised it wasn't a heavier fine given the proximity of an airport and the fact the Mavic 2 is well over the 250g limit for flying over people even within the line of sight. He was also reportedly operating his drone at 500m (1,640 ft), well over the 120m limit in the UK, and creating an additional risk of a drone the pilot couldn't see being blown onto crowds. A drone of around 900g with a lot of potential momentum, before you even factor in the presence of the airport.

According to DroneDJ, he told the court “I wasn’t aware of the restrictions and laws. I should have researched more. It was a new hobby to me,” but ignorance of the law has never been an excuse and – as someone who has flown a lot of DJI drones including the Mavic 2 – it's also quite hard to be ignorant of nearby airports or the rules. The packaging and the app usually direct you to both.

We're not saying don't get a drone – though perhaps start with one of the best beginner's drones. Do check the drone rules, though. It's clear from this that they're enforced pretty quickly in the UK.

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 

Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 

He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook