No fly zone: police ready to enforce ban on drones at Cheltenham Festival
In-running punters face police action if they fly drones in their battle to outsmart rivals at the Cheltenham Festival.
Unlike recent incidents on other racecourses, there will be a no-fly zone in operation for anyone or anything not under the guidance of the course's temporary air traffic control, except for the emergency services.
Police have been powerless to act over drones spotted flying at recent meetings at Haydock, Leicester and Newbury, among others, with no legal restrictions on the air space.
Gloucestershire police released a statement that read: "Officers have considered security issues, including the use of drones, as part of operational planning.
"As is standard practice, we are working with the racecourse and other agencies involved in the festival to help deliver a safe and secure event.
"A restricted air space is in operation above the racecourse and anyone flying an aircraft without the necessary permission will be committing an offence."
The spectre of disruption remains a possibility as Cheltenham attracts a swarm of helicopters, with corporate hospitality guests, owners, trainers and jockeys flying in during the run-up to racing each day.
Police and even the army failed to stop drones bringing Gatwick and Heathrow airports to a standstill before and after Christmas.
The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed there is an exclusion zone in place for all four days of the festival between the hours of 10am and 8pm.
Detailing the restrictions that affect flying below 3,000 feet and in areas two and three nautical miles wide, the regulation reads: "There will be a large number of helicopters operating from the temporary heliport at the racecourse; therefore, the Secretary of State for Transport has decided that it is necessary to introduce Restriction of Flying Regulations under Article 239 of the Air Navigation Order 2016."
Restrictions are tight as banned flying objects include small balloons, kites and anyone parachuting or parascending.
A drone will still be sighted at the festival as ITV Racing has permission to fly one as part of its aerial coverage of the action.
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