Anger mounts over drone activity

Oamaru-based New Zealand Air Academy chief flying instructor Celroy Mascarenhas says flying...
A property owner near Oamaru Airport says concern is rife in the nearby area as drones continue to be spotted hovering over residential properties.

On Wednesday, Waitaki District Council staff, property owners, New Zealand Airline Academy and Heliventures staff, aero club members and hangar users met at the airport to discuss the continued drone sightings that stretch back several weeks.

Some, with recording devices attached, have been seen hovering over residential properties and outlying buildings in the area around McPherson and Ferry Rds, which has sparked concern in case they are being used by would-be thieves to case properties.

The Otago Daily Times recently reported three drones were seen flying at the airport about 8.40pm on August 30.

New Zealand Air Academy chief flying instructor Celroy Mascarenhas, based at the airport, pleaded for people to cease the activity as it could "potentially lead to an accident".

Hayden Williams, who owns a property near the airport, said about 25 people attended the meeting.

People were angry, he said.

"Your privacy is being breached. It's the fear of them capturing sight of you ... they are anonymous and they can see us, so we are worried."

As a result, a community group that would communicate any sightings had been formed.

Mr Mascarenhas had also started to post on the Papakaio Community Facebook page when trainees and instructors were flying at night.

Sergeant Blair Wilkinson, of Oamaru, said sightings of drones with unknown intent were reported often.

"Primarily, that's been people concerned [others] have been using drones to scope out their property to carry out thefts or things of that nature in the future.

"While we haven't established that has been the motivation behind somebody's actions, we are mindful that potentially it could occur and we certainly encourage people to contact police if they are concerned about any behaviour."

He advised people who spotted a suspicious drone to "avoid confrontation" and instead note down the registration number of any dubious vehicles in the area.

Drones may not be flown within 4km of an airport, at night over private land or over people without their consent.

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