Police, council, RAAF and Newcastle Airport join campaign to remind public where in Port Stephens drones can fly

Vibrant yellow signs designed to alert and educate the public on drone flying rules will soon be installed in three Port Stephens towns.

Increasing incidents of drones being flown within the Newcastle Airport and Williamtown RAAF Base air space has prompted the two organisations to join forces with Port Stephens Council and police in a campaign to educate the public about the rules and responsibilities that come with owning a drone.

Newcastle Airport chief executive officer Peter Cock said the air space around the Williamtown airport is a strict no fly zone as devices such as drones can interfere with flight paths and delay flights.

"You cannot fly drones within 5.5km of the movement area of Newcastle Airport. You must also be careful not to fly in any other no fly zones surrounding the airport," he said.

"These rules are in place to ensure the safety of all travellers and that the operations of the airport are not disrupted. These rules also apply for RAAF Base Williamtown, adjacent to Newcastle Airport."

Group Captain Chris Hake, acting senior ADF officer at Williamtown, said the base's sensors had detected "thousands" of illegal drone flying activities within the air space in the past 12 months.

"We've had a couple of incidents this year with our sensors detecting drones operating inside the prohibited area [and] planes have had to divert their flight path. It can be a significant problem to operations, particularly on approach to the runway to at Williamtown," he said.

One of the signs that will be installed around Newcastle Airport warning the public not to fly drones in the area.

One of the signs that will be installed around Newcastle Airport warning the public not to fly drones in the area.

Much of Port Stephens is a no fly zone for recreational drones due to the RAAF's flying activities and number of helicopter landing zones across the area.

Fines for illegally operating a drone, overseen by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, range from $1000 up to $10,500.

Seeing the increase in illegal drone use in Port Stephens and expecting the devices to once again be a popular present for Christmas, the airport, RAAF, council and police have launched the drone flying awareness campaign.

As part of the campaign eight signs, funded by NSW Police, will soon be installed by Port Stephens Council in Fern Bay, Williamtown and Raymond Terrace warning the public about 'no drone' zones in the area.

The four organisations are also encouraging anyone who owns a drone or receives one for Christmas to download the OpenSky app or head to the website to see where they can and cannot fly.

"Having safe skies and airways is a top priority for local police," Inspector Alan Janson said.

"If you don't follow the rules, you could potentially be hit with a significant fine or even jail time. Don't make a stupid mistake for the sake of that one aerial shot in a restricted zone - it's not worth it."

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