Drone lost by police officer found the next day in children's playground

Library picture of a drone. Credit: PA Images

A police drone was found in a children's playground after the officer controlling it managed to lose it, a report has found.

The drone was being used to carry out a search operation in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire in April 2021.

It had been up in the air less than four minutes when the Thames Valley Police officer lost sight of it due to 'mist in the area' and the drone began to drift in the wind.

The drone was found undamaged the next day in a playground approximately 5 km north of the takeoff point.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found the pilot had tried to active the Return to Home function, but had failed to set a location for the drone to return to before takeoff.

Investigators also found the pilot had not completed the police force's own requirements in order to carry out the drone operation.

Following the accident, amendments have been made to the In-Flight Checklist to include an action to confirm the home point is locked, and if time permits, to check the RTH function.

The operator also intends to fit additional LED lighting to its UAs (unmanned aircraft), to assist in maintaining line of sight at night.