You are strolling towards your car after a long day’s work, when gradually you become aware of an unusual sound. What could it be? A weed eater? A swarm of bees? No, that’s not quite it. Maybe a swarm of robotic bees?
While you are trying to figure it out a shadow flits across your path. Fearfully, you glance up at the sky. Are the robotic bees attacking? No, mercifully not. What you are experiencing is the proximity of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RAPS) – or, as it is more commonly known, a drone.
What should you do in these circumstances? If you are in Techno Park, the answer is simple: you should call security.
The Flight Safety Officer of the Stellenbosch Flying Club advises that “flying drones over built-up areas is a violation of the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) regulations.” It is also illegal to fly drones within five nautical miles – or roughly ten kilometres – of any airport (although in some cases special permission can be obtained). With the Stellenbosch Aerodrome situated right next to Techno Park, then, the flying of drones in the area is doubly forbidden.
“Unlicensed flying of drones is illegal,” the Flight Safety Officer says, “and it is a violation that must be addressed as soon as it occurs.” He recommends that people should report these occurrences to the Stellenbosch Flying Club Safety Office who will file an Aviation Safety Report and follow up the matter with the appropriate authorities.
It is worth keeping mind, however, that there are in fact a few legal drone operators in the Western Cape. The Flying Safety Officer assures us that these operators will be happy to comply with the conditions of their licence, which are very strictly regulated.
So if a drone should buzz across your path in Techo Park – or if you discover that unlicensed drone activity has muddled the radio signals of your business, which is a real risk – please report the matter to the Stellenbosch Flying Club Safety Office at (021) 8800294.
Should you which to obtain further information regarding ”drone operations” you can contact Rikus Erasmus (082 553 1894), who will be happy to provide assistance.
(And if you would like to hear what a drone sounds like, click here.)