UK Couple Arrested After Drone Causes Gatwick Airport Chaos And Delays

Gatwick Airport, Paul Gait, Elaine Kirk

UK police say that they have made two arrests in connection with the recent incident that saw drones causing chaos and extensive delays at Gatwick airport, one of the nation’s largest transport hubs, with middle-aged couple Paul Gait and Elaine Kirk taken in for questioning.

In a situation that authorities called “unprecedented anywhere in the world”, the airport was forced to shut down for more than 36 hours in the busiest week of the year, as drones breached the perimeter, buzzing the control tower and runway and posing a risk for incoming and outgoing flights.

The couple in question were arrested around 10pm Friday, with reports that police swooped on and searched their home, a short distance from Gatwick airport. Sussex police said in a statement to the media:

“A 47-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman, both from Crawley, were arrested in the town on suspicion of disrupting services of civil aviation aerodrome to endanger or likely to endanger safety of operations or persons.” 

Locals were surprised to hear that the couple had been taken into custody, and told reporters that Kirk had “no interest” in flying drones, although Gait was fond of remote-controlled helicopters and cars, and sometimes seemed to be like a “big kid with his toys.”

The arrests came after a local saw a man in high-visibility cycling gear standing over several drones in a country lane, around six kilometres from the airport.

All told, more than 140,000 passengers had travel plans interrupted, both at Gatwick airport and others, thanks to the knock-on effect of the drones forcing flights to be cancelled and delayed. The airport reopened on Friday, although delays are expected to be ongoing.