'Reckless' flying fanatic, 38, fined after using model aircraft near Heathrow days after Gatwick drone chaos

George Rusu, 38, flew the 1m-long Tundre aircraft on a field near a runway at Heathrow, Britain's busiest airport, on Christmas Eve.

Just days earlier Gatwick Airport endured three days of chaos affecting more than 140,000 passengers after a series of drone sightings forced runways to close a number of times.

Rusu, from Hillingdon, pleaded guilty to flying a small unmanned aircraft without permission of air traffic control at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court.

Court documents state Rusu lives just a few hundred yards from Heathrow.

Deputy District Judge Robert Roscoe said his actions were "stupid to say the least" and blasted him for failing to "engage his brain".

He said: "I have some difficult understanding your mental process; in the few days before you committed this offence and your offence in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport, at the neighbouring Gatwick Airport, tens of thousands of people, their friends and their family, airlines, support staff at the airlines and very many people had their holidays ruined by something not connected with you, by a drone somebody else flew.

"There was a huge cost both emotionally and financially to all those people at Gatwick and you knew by having the news bulletins, and you watch the news and read newspapers as I do, that police and security staff spend hundreds of man hours searching for the perpetrators at Gatwick.

"Within two days of that, alert police officers in the vicinity of where you were flying your aircraft came to the park where you were there, flying the aircraft well within the zone that you shouldn't have been flying it without permission and with you having not made any checks of where and when you can fly your plane.

"It was stupid of you to say the very least."


He made no orders banning Romanian dad-of-one Rusu from keeping model aircraft, adding: "I suspect your wife will have something to say if she suspect you are even thinking of getting another one of these model aircrafts."

Aneeta Borwick, defending, said he was a member of Little Harlington Model Flying Club and added: "As you've heard from Mr Rusu's interview, he does have an interest in flying model planes and has flown them since he says 2015.

"He says that he did not realise on this date that he had gone as far as he had. In fact he is not certain that he did.

"He had no intention to do anything of that nature, to cause any type of disruption or alarm to anybody, he says it was by accident."

Rusu was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £200 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.

It was announced earlier this month the government will ban flying a drone within three miles of an airport, in a safety crackdown.

Under current rules, remote-controlled aircraft are not allowed within a kilometre – just over half-a-mile – of a main runway.

There have been no arrests in the criminal investigation into the Gatwick drone sightings since a couple from Crawley in West Sussex were released without charge before Christmas.

Pilots have reported several near misses with drones and the number reported to investigators has risen from six in 2014 to 93 in 2017.

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