A trip to the playground at the park with your children is normally an enjoyable and peaceful experience.
But this tranquillity and fun recently turned to terror when a space invader from the sky starting whizzing above.
The normally serene and playful sounds of Black Mountain Peninsula playground were drowned out by a whizzing and fizzing from a drone being flown at high speed.
The small, alien-like aircraft was darting between trees and rising and falling within centimetres of the ground with little regard for the dozens of children playing nearby on swings, slides and with balls.
As a concerned parent, I quickly moved my children away from within the frenetic fly-zone and soon the drone attracted the ire of other finger-pointing parents.
“Gee that drone is flying really fast and close to the kids,” said one concerned parent as they looked towards the sky.
Fortunately, there was an ACT Park Ranger – dressed in a dark green uniform – nearby who I spoke to about the airborne intruder being piloted by a man sitting in a deck chair behind his car in the carpark.
“I saw that drone and it seems very close to the playground and kids,” the ranger said. “But unfortunately, in the ACT, I can’t do much about it – I wish I could!”
It is disappointing that there currently are no local laws governing drones flying within metres of children’s playgrounds in public parks and open spaces.
The ACT Government’s website directs people to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) website on drone activity.
The CASA laws on recreational drone flying include:
- You must not fly your drone within 30 metres of people unless the other person is part of controlling or navigating the drone
- You must not fly over or above people. This could include festivals, sporting ovals, populated beaches, parks, busy roads and footpaths
- You must not operate your drone in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person, or property
- You must only fly during the day and keep your drone within visual line-of-sight.
According to these strict regulations, the drone and his pilot was clearly breaching national air safety rules, especially flying in a busy recreational area.
While the pilot seemed almost oblivious to others around him, it highlighted the urgent need for better policing of these regulations including at a Territory level.
I agree if people want to fly drones (and at high speed), they can do so in a more private area and follow the safety rules outlined by airline regulators.
However, if someone is going to fly these space invaders in crowded public areas where children are present, there needs to be an urgent crackdown on this dangerous behaviour.
CASA has warned flyers “there might be local council and/or national park laws prohibiting drone flights in certain areas”.
Let’s hope with further education, common sense for others and better policing of regulations, that drone flyers can enjoy their topsy-turvy past-time in a safer environment.
And parents can go back to enjoying watching their children on the peaceful playground.
Do you think there should be local laws introduced about drones flying near children?