A 49-year-old pilot has been prosecuted for flying his helicopter into and out of the 2016 Glastonbury Festival without permission.

On June 23 last year, Mark Matthews' Robinson R44 helicopter was seen to have landed at the Love Fields.

On the morning of 26 June, the final day of the Somerset arts and music festival, the helicopter was then seen taking-off from the Love Fields. Festival staff took photos of the helicopter as it left the site.

Photographs and a video also emerged on social media which showed the same helicopter, with a visible registration, at the site.

Airspace around the festival is restricted to protect the public and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was informed of the flights and subsequently launched an investigation.

Enquiries showed Mr Matthews' helicopter did not have the required permission from the police to fly into or out of the restricted airspace.

Appearing at Bath Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 31 January 2017, Mr Matthews, of Moonsbrook, Radstock, Somerset, admitted two offences of flying within the Glastonbury temporary restricted airspace.

He was fined a total of £4,000 and also ordered to pay £1,000 costs to the CAA, which had brought the prosecution.

Stuart Lindsey, Manager Airspace Regulation at the CAA, said: “An area of restricted airspace has been set up at every Glastonbury Festival since 1998 and is put in place to protect the public.

By not obtaining permission to enter the airspace and by landing at the festival, this pilot posed a risk, not only to the public, but to other aircraft, which had the correct permissions.

Every pilot should know and abide by the rules of the air at all times, and the CAA is determined to take action whenever necessary to protect members of the public, including prosecuting those responsible for flying into restricted airspace.

This is the second year in a row the CAA has prosecuted a pilot for breaching airspace around the Glastonbury festival. In 2015 a paramotor aircraft made an unauthorised flight into the site, breaching the event's restricted airspace. The paramotor pilot was subsequently fined by magistrates.

Notes to editors:

  1. Every year that there has been a Glastonbury Festival since 1998, regulations have been made prohibiting aircraft from flying below 3,100ft above mean sea level within a 2.5 nautical radius centred upon Glastonbury.
  2. Mark Matthews, of Moonsbrook, Radstock, Somerset, admitted two offences of flying within the Glastonbury Restricted Airspace (Temporary).
  3. The Civil Aviation Authority is tasked by the Department for Transport to investigate and prosecute breaches of aviation safety rules and some aviation related consumer protection and health and safety requirements.
  4. It is in the public interest that those who comply with aviation rules have confidence that those rules are enforced.
  5. Prosecution is one means by which the CAA ensures that the aviation rules for which it is responsible are properly observed and appropriately enforced.

The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: ensuring that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.