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Drones and kites must remain grounded while Obama visits London

Emergency vehicles and civil planes going to airports will be able to fly between April 21 and April 24, Mashable reports, but all other aircraft including “any small balloon, any kite weighing not more than two kilograms, any small unmanned aircraft and any parachute including a parascending parachute” will be restricted from flying.

This is a routine ban that’s often used at sporting events, authorities say, and it extends to Windsor, where Obama will have lunch with the Queen on Friday, BBC News reports.

Areas where drones will be restricted.

Areas where drones will be restricted.
UK Aeronautical Information Services

This comes after a Sunday flight bound for London was believed to have struck a drone. An investigation was launched after the pilot of the British Airways flight reported his plane was hit by a drone on approach to Heathrow airport. According to police, the drone was flying near Richmond Park in southwest London.

Fortunately the plane landed safely, but incidences like this highlight the dangers of reckless, negligent and even malicious use of drones, Chief Superintendent Martin Hendy told Newsweek. He noted that his agency continues to work with the CAA and other organizations to tackle the issue and make certain that drone enthusiasts know the dangers and understand the law.

“One of the challenges is to ensure people realize what is legitimate and what is illegal. The message is to not fly them anywhere near airports or flight paths, or over crowded places such as football and other stadiums,” he said. “The potential there is for a major incident.”

There have been 321 “close encounters” between drones and airline operators during the past two years, according to a study from the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, in New York.

The restrictions are part of an “overarching security plan” for the visit by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the UK’s National Air Traffic Service said.

Stansted Airport and the capital will also be included in the ban on Thursday night and Sunday morning.

The CAA reports that drones can usually be flown as high as 400 feet (122 meters), but regulations ban aircraft from flying lower than 762 meters (2,500 feet) unless they are using Heathrow, Stansted, or London City airports.

While they are in the UK, the Obamas will meet prime minister David Cameron, visit the Queen, and take part in a town hall meeting, Wired.co.uk reports. It’s likely that during the meeting Obama will encourage the UK to stay in the European Union.

Flight restrictions aren’t unusual for major events to protect those who are attending. For the Super Bowl in the U.S., a 32 mile no-fly zone was introduced for drones.

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