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 Windsor Great Park spotted a quad-copter flying hundreds of metres in the air trying to sneak a peek of Frogmore Cottage in Berkshire.
Between 5.02pm and 5.08pm, the drone flew south to north along the line of The Long Walk – the route Harry and Meghan took on their wedding day – 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 and vanishing.
The photographer, who snapped the drone on a long lens camera, estimated the height of the flying machine to be more than 300 metres (984ft)
The maximum height a drone can be legally flown, even in an uncontrolled airspace, is 121 metres (300ft).
The route taken by the drone was within very tightly controlled airspace.
It was in what is called the London Central Zone – the tightly controlled airspace over the capital city – as well as being right in the middle of the Heathrow arrivals and departures flightpath.
A spokeswoman for Heathrow Airport told The Sun Online that the incident happened outside the 5km airport exclusion zone for flying drones.
She added: “Heathrow operations weren’t impacted. Aircraft at that point are flying at approximately 2,500 ft.”
It is illegal to fly drones within the confines of Windsor Great Park and Windsor Castle.
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.