During the high-octane events of the Manx Grand Prix, a motorcycle fan got a hefty fine for operating a drone where it shouldn't have been. Thomas Rudd, a 25-year-old, faced a £3,000 ($3,788) penalty for flying his device near the Ballaugh Bridge area on Sunday.
Given the excitement surrounding the race, such a careless act stood out, raising significant concerns about the safety of those present.
The regulations around the race are clear-cut: Drones shouldn't be flown within 0.6 miles of the TT course, especially during qualifying and race periods.
Breaking this rule can have severe consequences, as it can interfere with the race and “lead to disaster,” as Deputy High Bailiff Rachel Braidwood emphasized.
Indeed, imagine a motorcycle roaring down the track at high speeds and encountering a drone—the outcome would be catastrophic.
The incident came to light when race control was notified of a drone in operation around 16:15 BST, just before the Senior MGP race was about to commence.
A vigilant spectator played a crucial role in identifying Rudd, having snapped a picture of him operating the drone. The photograph featured Rudd, identifiable by his clothing, holding the drone controller near the Ballaugh Commissioner's noticeboard.
The Police, acting promptly on this lead, located Rudd in a black BMW, his attire matching the description. A subsequent search led to the discovery of the drone in the car.
When confronted, Rudd candidly admitted to his mistake. Interestingly, during his arrest, he told his companions, “This is my mess,” urging them to continue enjoying the race.
Contrary to his initial statement, wherein he claimed to have operated the drone over 1,000 meters from the course, evidence showed the device was a mere 200 meters away. He later pleaded guilty to his actions.
While his defense pointed out that he was filming the scenic surroundings and not the race and was unaware of the illegality of his actions, the court wasn't swayed.
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Braidwood reportedly sternly noted that ignorance of the law isn't an excuse. The potential danger drones can pose, not only to racers but also to medical helicopters during the event, is severe.
“The use of a drone can lead to disaster and is taken very, very seriously,” she reinforced.
Although Rudd's drone was in operation for a brief period, the significant fine is a testament to the gravity of the offense. On top of the £3,000 ($3,788) fine, Rudd was saddled with £125 ($158) in court costs, a pricey reminder of the importance of adhering to rules.
Unfortunately, we do not have any information on the drone model's type or make. Please fly safely and responsibly to avoid drone incidents like this one.
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