A DRONE pilot risked disaster by trying to take aerial photos of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new home in the middle of the Heathrow flightpath yesterday.
A photographer in Great Windsor Park took photos of the quad-copter soaring hundreds of meters into the air right in the centre of one of the busiest passenger aircraft flightpaths in the world on Saturday afternoon.
The drone flew south to north along the line of The Long Walk – the route Harry and Meghan took in a carriage on their wedding day last year – and hovered over Windsor Castle.
It then returned south down the The Long Walk and swerved east and headed directly to the royal couple’s new home Frogmore Cottage before returning south where it came from and disappearing.
The drone flight took place between 5.02pm and 5.08pm on Saturday.
The photographer, who snapped the drone on a long lens with a professional high-megapixel camera, estimated the height of the drone to be more than 300 meters (more than 984ft).
The maximum height a drone can be legally flown, even in an uncontrolled airspace, is 121 meters (300 feet).
The route taken by the drone was within very tightly controlled airspace.
It was in what is called the London Central Zone (tightly controlled airspace over the capital city) as well as being right in the middle of the Heathrow arrivals and departures flightpath.
It was also within five miles of the airport, which is a further controlled zone by law, also within close proximity of Windsor Castle, which is a banned zone for drone flights.
It is also illegal to fly zones within the confines of Windsor Great Park.
Between midday and 7pm on Saturday, this precise area was in the middle of the flightpath for all arrivals into Heathrow airport with passenger jets flying through it at low altitude every two minutes.
A website dedicated to tracking all flights in and out of international airports showed that at 5.03pm on Saturday – right in the middle of the drone flight – EIGHT passenger jets were lining up to make the final approach to Heathrow flying over this exact part of Windsor.
As passenger planes went over Frogmore Cottage every two minutes around 5pm on Saturday, their were at a height of between 1,300ft and 1,400 ft according to flight tracking website
A passer-by said of the drone flight: “We were walking along the Long Walk towards Windsor Castle a few hundred meters from the castle.
“The passenger jet flightpath switches between times of day and at this time (5pm) arrivals were coming in right over our heads. They are always very low.
“The noise is deafening. There were jumbo jets (Boeing 747) and super jumbos (Airbus A380) and others.
“They come about every two minutes and on Saturday that was their flight path all afternoon. Then in between the flights we heard the distinctive whirring of a drone overhead.
“I was quite shocked. It seems like such an obviously dangerous thing to do with the planes coming so low overheard and so regularly right in this area.
“It flew over our heads at about 200 meters up towards Windsor Castle and then went up very high almost out of sight but we could see that it came back towards us then went to the east over to the area where I know Frogmore Cottage is.
“Then it returned to the Long Walk and flew back over our heads and went south out of sight.
“It was in the air above us for about five or six minutes. In that time, three flights must have come over in the exact same air space and also very low.”
Harry and Meghan only moved in to Frogmore Cottage the day before on Friday 5 April.
On Saturday, throughout the day, their new 10-bedroom home was directly under the flightpath for Heathrow arrivals from around the world.
Between 19 and 21 December 2018, hundreds of flights were cancelled at Gatwick Airport, following reports of drone sightings close to the runway.
The reports caused major disruption, affecting approximately 140,000 passengers and 1,000 flights.