back to article Drone goal! Quadcopter menace alert freezes flights from London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport temporarily halted departing flights this evening after a drone was apparently spotted hovering in the area. Staff hit up the capital's Met Police to help probe the alleged sighting, according to a short statement issued on Twitter at 0947 PST (1747 UTC)... We are responding to a drone sighting at …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another...

    Sighting of an unladen swallow.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Yet another...

      african or european?

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Yet another...

        african or european?

        Chinese. If there was one at all.

    2. Robert Forsyth

      Re: Yet another...

      African or European?

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: Yet another...

        "African or European?"

        You have to know these things when you're a king, you know.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yet another...

      It's getting worse.

      I've just returned from the bathroom and I think there maybe a couple of Klingons.

      I've just let the boss know I'll be out of action for a few hours.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

    ... the whole world is laughing at England.

    Carry On!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

      The problem is that airliners are designed to cope with losing an engine at altitude; at 10ft and you're already at max thrust, things might get a bit iffy. "It is all fun and games 'till somebody loses an Airbus", as they say.

      1. Fursty Ferret

        Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

        Last time I checked the certification requirements for airliners tend to involve losing an engine at the most critical point: still on the ground but too little runway left to stop. Loss of an engine at altitude is an inconvenience.

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

        "Things might get a bit iffy" is arguably the exactly right wording, considering that no, airliners are _required_ to be able to take off perfectly fine even after losing an engine, right at take-off, as the first reply at this link not only asserts but convincingly documents. Not that anyone would WANT that of course, but let's not panic worse than it's actually warranted.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

          While the aircraft may be okay if it loses an engine, what will the impact being on the general public and the press?

          Headlines of "Heathrow flight taken out by drone, imagine what terrorists with two drones could do!!!!" may be difficult to manage.

          We've already shown how willing passengers are to be molested by security staff and pillaged by airport shops in the hope of being "a little safer" from terrorists - drones around airports is more about managing PR than aircraft engineering at this point in time.

          1. phuzz Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

            Easy, just add more engines!

            Or, more sensibly*, move over to using rocket engines for take-offs, because rockets don't need intakes so they can't get taken out by a drone.

            * actual sensibleness may vary, consult your doctor.

          2. hoola

            Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

            More to the point if, at best, a load of debris from the now unserviceable engine spews over the M25 or at worst the aircraft is unable to gain enough height as it all goes pear-shaped then what? Time and time again the theory of what is supposed to happen versus what actually happens in these situations is usually worse.

            You will end up with an aircraft crashing in a densely populated area unless the pilots had enough control to ditch in one of the reservoirs.

            Whether on the ground of the air it is not a risk that should be taken on a whim.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

      Shurely you mean Carry on up the Heathrow?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

        Carry on From Gatwick?

    3. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

      Thanks for invoking that great cultural memory.

      Carry On Flying. Sid James pulls stunts to distract attention from [subplot involving Windsor's assets and evil genius Williams]. Clouseau-eqsue cop Bresslaw devotes lots of effort to Innocent Hawtrey seen in possession of kiddies model aircraft that doesn't fly. Any screenwriters want to flesh something out?

    4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

      Well, it distracts the plebs from Brexit. Noticable it happened just as MPs were fighting the government in Parliament, demanding that the government remove 'no deal' as an option.

      Hold on, that's the decision that legal opinion has declared is the perview of MPs - the legal case that Remainers fought and fought for. Ok, MPs, get on with it!

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

        just as MPs were fighting the government in Parliament, demanding that the government remove 'no deal' as an option.

        No Deal is a frothing mental option - the clinically braindead option vs. May's serious head injury option.

        I'm starting to think maybe Heathrow decided on not plumping for the luxury executive Drone protection plan option, and Mr Luigi Vercotti and Mr Dino Vercotti will be seen in the Heathrow Administrative offices in the next day or so.

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

        MPs were fighting the government in Parliament, demanding that the government remove 'no deal' as an option

        Do these MPs understand that 'no deal' isn't an option (i.e. something you choose)? It's just what happens when you refuse everything else, which is what those same MPs seem bent on doing.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

          Do these MPs understand that 'no deal' isn't an option (i.e. something you choose)? It's just what happens when you refuse everything else,

          Probably out of fear that Reese and the Exit means exit group will vote for No Deal with all the same ferver of the radicals yelling admiral ackbar and lighting a fuse in a packed public space.

    5. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

      I'm sure they're laughing with us, not at us....

      /s

    6. Symon Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

      They won't be laughing when we fit 'old painless' to every airliner.

      Admittedly, it might reduce the load capacity of the plane, but it will solve the noise pollution problem. No-one will want to live anywhere near an airport.

      p.s. Apropos of nothing, "When I said I was going to become a comedian, they all laughed. Well, they're not laughing now, are they?" -- Bob Monkhouse.

    7. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: At least people can take comfort from the fact that ...

      The only reason that people would be laughing at the UK is because they're naive about how vulnerable their own airports are...

  3. Robert Forsyth

    Last time was coincident with shortage of fuel and a French majority share takeover.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Holmes

    pictures?

    pictures, radar blips, courtroom artist rendering? something?

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: pictures?

      "The cops claimed dozens of "credible" witnesses reported seeing one or two quad-copters over the runways"

      @chivo

      I had the same thought, dozens of credible witness yet none of them had a smartphone/camera with them ....... kinda strange in these days where everyone is "always connected".

      I wonder of there are now people that don't know the difference between a drone and other flying things, you know like flappy feathered things called birds?

      Reminds me of the amazing amounts of UFO sighting in the 60/70s etc

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: pictures?

        I'll stick to my theory. Gatwick was a christmas tree; all that follows is inspired by that.

      2. VikiAi

        Re: pictures?

        I'm not sure a couple of blurry pixels zig-zagging occasionally across a shakily-held video image as the incidental videographer tries to track it with a 250ms delay between reality and what is on the phone screen would really be very helpful.

        And shouting "Enhance" at it doesn't work like on TV/Movies.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: pictures?

          @VikiAi

          I would much rather see something Zig-Zaggy rather than absolutely nothing at all. Anything helps to prove that there is fact behind the words and not just someones imagination,

          Many of the modern higher end Smartphones have some pretty good objectives today, and if you are close enough to recognize that it was in fact a drone then I am sure that the camera would easily film it, even if a little shakily.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: pictures?

            In particular, the camera would be perfectly fine to record the ear-splitting ZZZZZZZ these things produce, doubtlessly audible just fine from any range that permits positive visual identification.

        2. NightFox
          Facepalm

          Re: pictures?

          And in "vertical video" format, no doubt

        3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: pictures?

          I'm not sure a couple of blurry pixels zig-zagging occasionally across a shakily-held video

          Do you realize HOW MUCH CCTV is at Heathrow. This is not Gatwick where the runway is in the middle of a field. One of the runways is BEHIND Business T5, Long Term T5, Enterprise and other car rental car parks. All of these have CCTV coverage which as a side effect also covers the runway behind it. The other one is adjacent to various repair/engineering facilities with coverage as well.

          So if there will be footage it will be anything like shakily held.

          I am calling a mass psychosis bullshit on this one or someone about to miss his flight and doing an "exam bomb". This time. There will always be a next time.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: pictures?

      Playmobil?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: pictures?

      And remember at Gatwick the worlds press with lots of high end camera kit were standing by.

  5. Simon B-52

    "environmental terrorists"

    "One theory put forward was that it could have been a protest staged by environmental terrorists"

    Frankly, I find the unquestioning repetition of the phrase "environmental terrorist" to be the action of a craven shill.

    Or possibly just a Daily Fail reader.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: "environmental terrorists"

      Frankly, I find the unquestioning repetition of the phrase "environmental terrorist" to be the action of a craven shill.

      Why? Because you don't like the idea?

      Plod have covered themselves with something other than glory in the Gatwick pantomime, but whilst they believed that there was or might be a drone, they'd also need to be considering a motive, and that is one of a very small number of credible options.

      Lets face it the tree huggers have "form" in respect of various stupid, risky and obstructive actions - climbing industrial machinery at coal power stations, gluing themselves to various commercial and government buildings, illegal attempts to disrupt fracking, attempting to stop the construction of the second runway at Manchester airport, blocking roads in London.

      1. scrubber

        Re: "environmental terrorists"

        Don't forget that sometimes that "form" was not only encouraged but actually perpetrated by deep undercover agents of the state.

      2. rg287

        Re: "environmental terrorists"

        Lets face it the tree huggers have "form" in respect of various stupid, risky and obstructive actions - climbing industrial machinery at coal power stations, gluing themselves to various commercial and government buildings, illegal attempts to disrupt fracking, attempting to stop the construction of the second runway at Manchester airport, blocking roads in London.

        As true as this is, and whilst it was a valid possibility during the Gatwick scare, we can probably discount it now since no group has claimed responsibility. It's unlikely to be activists given the absence of some sort of manifesto.

        It's not the cry of a craven shill to suggest it as a credible possibility - environmental activists have done stupider things. But in this particular case, nobody is trying to get coverage of their aims or manifesto, which means it's probably either:

        * Kids being tools

        * Russian agents gaslighting us

        * Figments of people's fervoured and paranoid imaginations now that they've been led into a siege mentality by the press

        I'll leave it to the commentards to rank the respective likelihoods based on Occam's Razor.

      3. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: "environmental terrorists"

        Lets face it the tree huggers have "form" in respect of various stupid, risky and obstructive actions - climbing industrial machinery at coal power stations, gluing themselves to various commercial and government buildings

        Going by that list, it's mostly putting their lives as on the line as what they are trying to protect.

        Any drone big enough to have a hairy scruffy type strapped to it would be hard to miss I'd think.

        Doesn't really fit the M.O.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "environmental terrorists"

          "Any drone big enough to have a hairy scruffy type strapped to it would be hard to miss I'd think."

          Well..... the police hairychopper got reported as "a Drone" at one point.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "environmental terrorists"

        "Lets face it the tree huggers have "form" in respect of various stupid, risky and obstructive actions"

        And very publicly claiming responsibility.

        So far noone's come forward,

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: "environmental terrorists"

      It's a sad indictment of the lowered standards of El Reg commentards that you have to date received 24 upvotes for this nonsense.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: "environmental terrorists"

        Environmental activists they may be.

        But intending to terrorise someone is surely a fairly key aspect of being a terrorist. If that's no longer the case you're left with a word roughly equivalent to "someone I disagree with".

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: "environmental terrorists"

          Terrorism could reasonably be described as causing damage for political goals.

          These eco terrorists are intentionally costing the airlines a great deal of money as well as intentionally costing a great number of travellers their holidays.

          I would be perfectly content to see them sent to Guantanamo.

          1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

            Re: "environmental terrorists"

            As always, follow the money. Drone turns up at Gatwick, UK pays 6 million to an Israeli spook security contractor for 'anti-drone technology', well at least that's what the treasury account's will show...

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              Re: "environmental terrorists"

              Not follow the money, follow the benefit: Who benefits?

              Eco lunatics benefit. As potentially do security contractors, as potentially a kid having a laugh ( the fun being the benefit ).

              But it was obviously eco lunatics.

          2. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: "environmental terrorists"

            Terrorism could reasonably be described as causing damage for political goals.

            Well, that's a dangerously anti-democratic definition. Are you a member of the Cabinet?

            By that, any mostly peaceful protest, becomes terrorism if it affects commerce or some opportunistic lout breaks a window due to the over-stimulation....

            Any effect on the economy is already considered damage if the government doesn't think they caused it.

            Before you know it, wearing a bad suit outside an expensive fashion emporium is terrorism.

            Lets stick to terrorism being causing or threatening loss of life. To prevent plod from extending terrorism to include batty stressed housewives shoplifting sprees.

  6. MatthewSt

    PST

    Slightly confusing that a news story happening in the UK and published on a UK website gives the time of a tweet in PST first and then UTC in brackets. Just my opinion. :)

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: PST

      Does PST stand for Pissed Sub-editor Time?

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Adding to the paranoia maybe?

    The news here in the States has done a lot of coverage of the plod and the government's stance on drones, airport, and border security in Blighty. Could this all be security theater (or theatre if you prefer) so that Parliament and the plod are "doing something to keep everyone safe"? Or maybe even the company that's selling the systems now for detecting these things?

    This whole affair smells like 3 day old fish that's been left out in the sun. I'm waiting for sightings here in the States to "increase security" but somehow, I don't think drones over the southern border will do that but in the race to the bottom that we've been seeing the last few years, It wouldn't surprise me.

    1. Credas Silver badge

      Re: Adding to the paranoia maybe?

      The news here in the States has done a lot of coverage of the plod and the government's stance on drones, airport, and border security in Blighty. Could this all be security theater (or theatre if you prefer) so that Parliament and the plod are "doing something to keep everyone safe"?

      I'm sure that some of the more asinine comments by government Ministers are just arse-covering to demonstrate that they're "doing something to keep everyone safe". However aviation-related security theatre is more of a US speciality.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Adding to the paranoia maybe?

      Drones over the southern border would remind everyone why a wall/barrier/fence is ineffective.

      1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

        Re: Adding to the paranoia maybe?

        I decided to remove my password because there are ways around it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Adding to the paranoia maybe?

          I just made my boot password the full text of War and Peace, typed backwards. It's amazingly strong. So strong. The strongestest. Because almost all problems on computers are down to bad people climbing through windows and booting up a PC while you sleep.

          1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

            Re: Adding to the paranoia maybe?

            `tac pg2600.txt` then? I don't know what you're trying to prove except your ignorance of security?

        2. scrubber
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Adding to the paranoia maybe?

          "I decided to remove my password because there are ways around it."

          I did the same with my home router because plausible deniability and reasonable doubt play well in court.

          1. adam 40

            Me too - my wifi is totally open

            I have 100Mbps on the backhaul so even if you're on it all day, I won't notice....

  8. Mad Mike

    Incompetence

    After Sussex Police made complete and utter fools of themselves, an opportunity for another police force to do the same!!

    Our tax pounds are obviously being well spent........

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Incompetence

      After Sussex Police made complete and utter fools of themselves, an opportunity for another police force to do the same!!

      On the basis that Sussex police DID make complete and utter fools of themselves, you reckon all police forces should ignore reports of drone activity near airports, then? Maybe they could stop responding to laser harassment of aircraft as well.

      At least that would free up resources to keep the hoi polloi away from grandstanding by moron politicians outside Parliament.

  9. W Donelson

    I would bet these are trial runs, as part of a larger plan to disrupt the UK.

    Of course, Brexit is doing that already.

  10. Joe W
    Black Helicopters

    You don't want to close the airport over nothing

    True.

    But do you want to be the person that said "naah, there is no drone, no need to do anything"? So, yes, I can get their response. And to the "why no cell phone pictures?!" - person: do not assume everybody has a phone that can take a picture of a small object more than a few 10m away.... Most phones cannot, while you could still see and possibly identify the object. Phone cameras are optimised for a very different use.

    1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

      Re: You don't want to close the airport over nothing

      That's just it. Selfies are by nature posed for, giving time for the cameraman to get everything in focus. And every dolt begins to think they'd be able to do wildlife photography no probs.

  11. Mr_Pitiful

    2.4Ghz drone operation!

    This kit isn't using FM/AM/VHF for it's flight modes ….. is it?

    I know these things use a kind of modified proprietary protocol while in use

    Don't the manufacturers have to provide specific details on how to track them?

    I'm into model boats, and have one fitted with a telemetry system that reports back to a computer/phone/website which ever I want

    I've sniffed the packets from it and the data contains the serial no, last 2000 location points and obviously telemetry data (speed/heading/duration)

    OK, so all of that can be spoofed, but the original data is hard coded into my device, even if I make s/w changes to it

    Therefore it sends the real & fake info (which I thought drones did as well)

    I'm guessing the suspects aren't creating their own network covering the entire airside operation

    (or are they)?

    Well they must be pretty clever and quite numerous people needed and tonnes of kit

    Is it a DJI or better make if there is one (Don't DJI have a real time method of monitoring ALL their products)

    I'll bet that they do, so why arn't the manufacturers assisting with the loction tracking data

    There must be an easier answer than closing thee airport

    Put me in charge of protecting our airports and you'll never see another drone within 5 miles of the perimeter fence

    Or did I get this totally wrong and it is actually cheaper to send in a couple of thousand coppers in the dark. haha

    Mr_Pitiful

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2.4Ghz drone operation!

      Why do people keep going on about DJ Phantom drones? They are lovely bit's of kit - but essentially 'Apple' - shiny, expensive and cool. Just like you can actually buy phones without paying £1000 plus, you can buy a drone for pocket money. There is no more reason for a drone to connect to the Internet and report back it's location than there is for a toaster to tell Russel Hobbs how many slices of bread it processed this morning.

      To get a 'drone' to fly you need a microprocessor with a 3 axis gyro. That's about a tenner down the river for a piece of kit specially designed to control drones. If you don't want to buy bespoke kit you could modify a Wii controller, or splash out on a cheap smart phone. If you want to tell the 'drone' what to do in real time you need a radio link. The 'drone' doesn't care about frequencies or technologies. Again - splash out 20 quid on a radio designed to control a drone, or use one you have lying around (that cheap mobile phone again). You are, after all, about to break the law, so licencing, frequency congestion etc don't really factor in. You need a few lines of code, luckily lots of it is open source, so feel free to download it - but if you don't want to do that find an eight year old to run you up the software in Scratch. If all that sounds too much like effort you could achieve the same effect with a rubber band powered balsa wood glider and a flashing led re purposed from a xmas tree decoration once the sun has gone down.

  12. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Plane spotters

    Heathrow has a fairly hardcore bunch of plane spotters. I would have thought that they would have the photographic skills and equipment to initially wide-angle video (to prove location) and then zoom in (to prove a drone) if they had seen a drone. So I suggest just another false alarm.

    [Sherlock icon as he is usually caricatured using enhanced optics, aka a magnifying glass.]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plane spotters

      Problem with this is most of the plane spotters don't have cameras, or binoculars or anything of the sort as the planes are so close at Heathrow. And even when there they do have cameras, the spotters mostly stand in one place (end of Myrtle Avenue) and Heathrow is massive. No way they could see a drone at the other end of the airport. There may be one or two spotters in other locations, but again it's a massive airport.

      Having said that there might be one or two security cameras at Heathrow that are perfectly placed to get a view of said drone....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Plane spotters

        As the drone was 'clearly' visible with the naked eye from a kilometre away on the M4, all the 'too small to photograph' excuses don't really wash.....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Plane spotters

          If there ever was a drone in the first place....

          Besides the place where most plane spotters go is nowhere near the M4 - there is a lot between them and the M4

          https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Myrtle+Ave,+Feltham/@51.464596,-0.4270016,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x487673a8f39f329d:0x6bb0c760c80bc25!8m2!3d51.4630325!4d-0.4264918

          Use streetview from the Great South-West Road.

          Security cameras would be best placed to provide an image, but nobody is releasing those images.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Squirrel!

  14. Tom Chiverton 1

    Why

    Because you shorted the stock ?

  15. Big Al 23

    Time to get real

    Drones will become a serious security issue to all major airports worldwide if an effective deterrent system is not soon developed. In addition lasers pointed at pilots is also becoming a serious hazard that must be addressed. It will only take one plane crash to emphasize why these significant safety issues need to be resolved now.

    1. Pseudonymous Howard

      Re: Time to get real

      It's not drones, it's phones which are the real thread. Just imagine the following scenario: Find around 5 people and incite them to call the police or airport security to report a drone sighting. Make sure the reports are supporting each other. In this case the airport management has no choice but to temporary shut down flight activity. It is like the old school prank to issue a bomb thread to the school in order to get a day off or to evade an exam or whatever.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Time to get real

        @Pseudonymous Howard: It's not drones, it's phones which are the real thread. (snip) It is like the old school prank to issue a bomb thread to the school in order to get a day off or to evade an exam or whatever.

        D is not adjacent to T.

        So are the "threads" typos or are you suggesting that the whole thing is a stitch up?

    2. Ochib

      Re: Time to get real

      Where are the drones with mounted lasers?

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Time to get real

        Swimming with the other fishes I assume

  16. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    And so it begins

    Whether false alarms or real sabotage attempts, this will develop into the biggest game of wack-a-mole the world has ever seen.

    All it needs is for the baddies to set up a drone on a fixed flight path, then bugger off.

    Oh, and forget about registering and tracking devices. The designs are are so simple that anyone with a 3d printing kit and a tame electronics geek can build their own - at least good enough for a single flight.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And so it begins

      No need for 3D printing, balsa wood will do just fine.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: And so it begins

        "No need for 3D printing, balsa wood will do just fine"

        Rice paper and a bit of hot air will do nicely too.

  17. Chris G Silver badge

    Just sayin'

    If there are enough 'credible' reports of illegal drones in places like airports, a responsible state would have to ban or regulate them heavily.

    Also good as a diversion for a government in a bit of a pickle.

  18. Flywheel Silver badge
    Joke

    Rumour has it ...

    ... that the Secret Government Solution is to surround all our airports with blimps shaped like Chris Grayling, and held in place by cables, as per WW2. They'll be inflated with an endless supply of high-tech Parliament-generated hot air and Grayling's permanent fixed maniacal grimace grin will serve to scare away trespassers, at no extra cost.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rumour has it ...

      I was with you right up to Grayling. It obviously won't work with him, as the blimp will almost certainly be looking the wrong way and deny responsibility.

  19. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Alien

    Where are the UFO's?

    Everything is a drone sighting these days, why can't old fashioned alien saucers cause an alert anymore?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Where are the UFO's?

      Everything is a drone sighting these days, why can't old fashioned alien saucers cause an alert anymore?

      Maybe no one believes in flying saucers these days, while they do believe in drones.

      When the human brain sees something they can't grok, they invariably jump to the most recent myth on the popular gossip circle.

      I don't think sightings of unrecognised flying things in previous centuries prior to the concept that the earth was not the centre of creation was either drones or aliens - possibly witches, demons or angels or other [fill in religious cultural bias of your choosing].

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Where are the UFO's?

      why can't old fashioned alien saucers cause an alert anymore?

      They've given up visiting the Earth, too many of those flipping "drone" things following them around all the time.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It must be real

    A man in a traffic jam on the M4 saw it (he was on the BBC). The fact that the M4 is slightly more than a kilometre away from the runway, and where he reported it (Harmondsworth) it runs in a bit of a cutting, suggests that it was a) either a really BIG drone over the runway or b) he has really GOOD eyesight. Can't see any other possibilities. The lights he saw were stationary, so couldn't possibly have been on a tower or anything like that - which at least means that it will have been easy to photograph.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It must be real

      How many vehicles on the M4 / M25 at that time?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I've had thoughts about this whole situation...

    1. Police accidentally fly a Police drone into Heathrow airspace

    2. Heathrow literally shits itself

    3. The police being the police, refuse to take any responsibility

    4. Start finger pointing at people around the airport and make some arrests

    5. After a few days, make some feeble "So uh, there might not be a drone" excuse...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've had thoughts about this whole situation...

      Could also be legit flight just north of the 1km exclusion zone. According to NATs app, Sipson or West Drayton would be just fine.

  22. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The ban is the point

    Up until now, there was no real reason for it. Now the reason has been "found", the ban can be enacted forthwith.

    There are, presumably other reasons why we are not to have our shiney, airborne, photographing toys.

  23. livin' thing
    Happy

    I bet it's just a smudge on a camera lens.

  24. Toilet Duk

    Want to pass repressive legislation that people would not normally put up with? Just use the old "Problem-Reaction-Solution" playbook.

    Problem: Oh no thousands of people had their holidays ruined at Gatwick

    Reaction: Do something!

    Solution: Draconian anti-drone legislation and the ever-widening definition of "terrorist".

    Coming next - new anti-protest legislation following the harassment of Remain MPs by idiots outside Parliament.

  25. Alan Brown Silver badge

    No mention of Cranes?

    The creek along Heathrow's southern boundary fence west of T5 is rather attractive to wading birds(*). I've watched both cranes and storks launch themselves out of it and then turn north across the operating airfield.

    These are "somewhat" larger and more solid than 90% of drones.

    (*) As is the marshy bit south of the west end of the airfield.

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