At a time when travelers are embarking on journeys home for the holidays, the second largest airport in the United Kingdom—Gatwick Airport—has shut down due to sightings of drones flying overhead.
The drones have resulted in chaos affecting over 110,000 passengers, not to mention the diversion of numerous flights that were scheduled to land at Gatwick before the sightings. Those flights have diverted their landings to London's Heathrow airport while some were forced to land other places in Europe. The airport isn't expected to reopen until Thursday afternoon.
Prime Minister Theresa May assured that the culprits would face prison time:
"We've already passed legislation in relation to the use of drones, so it is now—as has been made clear—the activity we've seen is illegal and those who are caught endangering aircraft can face up to five years in prison."
"The activity we have seen is illegal" - UK PM Theresa May says people responsible for flying drones over Gatwick A… https://t.co/yWRwlO3DoB— BBC News (UK) (@BBC News (UK)) 1545318884.0
The British army is reportedly intervening to find the culprits.
BREAKING: Gavin Williamson has just confirmed to me & other reporters: “We will be deploying the armed forces” at… https://t.co/ggn70aauUP— Lucy Fisher (@Lucy Fisher) 1545321739.0
But many were left wondering what this means for overall preparation if a small drone can bring the airport to a standstill.
I may be being ignorant here but... how are we unable to defend ourselves against some drones? #Gatwick— Dan Walker (@Dan Walker) 1545323400.0
If a couple of drones can shut down a major airport ie Gatwick, how the fuck are we going to cope with a… https://t.co/3lTtYwjCrp— Loz Argyle ⚓ (@Loz Argyle ⚓) 1545320785.0
@UKDefJournal Should UK be buying Typhoons/F35 if it can't cope with drones over Gatwick? #priorities And all th… https://t.co/M558GnHY1l— PeterW (@PeterW) 1545310293.0
We are, supposedly, preparing for a no deal Brexit, and meanwhile, a small, radio controlled toy holds the country… https://t.co/oKbgrhel8r— Colin Tassell#FBPE (@Colin Tassell#FBPE) 1545328623.0
The English may be known for their composure, but some were understandably about to lose it.
What’s happening at Gatwick is just a foretaste of what would be happening across all ports and airports in the eve… https://t.co/A4z9jl4qUJ— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew Adonis) 1545322266.0
The person who’s flying a drone in and out of Gatwick airport is going to get absolutely fucked when they’re caught… https://t.co/ZG7JuiXhwZ— Lux (@Lux) 1545321430.0
6 hours and counting sat on the floor of the Departures Lounge at @Gatwick_Airport. Cheers, drone bastards. You mas… https://t.co/ytmZEo3Brb— Katharine Bubbear (@Katharine Bubbear) 1545307491.0
Cheers to whoever is flying drones over Gatwick, I may not make it back for my Christmas turkey, bastards😤— Michael (@Michael) 1545309727.0
Despite the inconvenience, there were several jokes made.
Drone related humor was everywhere.
Theresa May outside Gatwick Airport https://t.co/yeLJ2TWNHQ— W⚓ (@W⚓) 1545316921.0
Just been sent this by a friend. The Gatwick Drone is on Grindr. https://t.co/klOpMZgkz5— Grant Tucker (@Grant Tucker) 1545328234.0
It's Christmas, there's trouble at the airport and they're bringing in the military. Does this not sound like ever… https://t.co/50Uoauh3Wx— Stephen (@Stephen) 1545327188.0
Hey #gatwick here's the guy you need https://t.co/3yzlpmZ6PB— Mark Taylor (@Mark Taylor) 1545330604.0
We now cross live to the Gatwick control tower https://t.co/aWL03hQDRV— Jack Blackburn (@Jack Blackburn) 1545321802.0
Some may have been made too soon.
Took some quality photos over Gatwick Airport earlier. Very proud of how these ones have come out. https://t.co/IXc4MIQLV8— Lux (@Lux) 1545326581.0
Filmed a sick football challenge near Gatwick today! Got loads of drone shots can’t wait to show you guys— Harry (@Harry) 1545321878.0
Don’t believe the news about nothing flying at Gatwick today, It’s a load of bollox, i’ve had the drone up all day.— Daniel O'Reilly (@Daniel O'Reilly) 1545320439.0
Though a shuttered airport brimming with people eager to get to their destination may not be the warmest environment, there were some who wouldn't let the delays deter their holiday spirit.
Staff and parents join children for Christmas singalong while they wait to travel as flights to and from London's G… https://t.co/5bTju4mQUu— ABC News (@ABC News) 1545318816.0
If there is anyone who is stuck at #Gatwick due to the #drones and needs a place to stay for the night we have a sp… https://t.co/TBjv98F1lj— Gemma Denny (@Gemma Denny) 1545314444.0
Stranded at @Gatwick_Airport but it isn’t so bad with this world class entertainment. Couple of reindeers bringing… https://t.co/MRnIGe5CU6— Michelle St. Pierre (@Michelle St. Pierre) 1545303434.0
Hopefully the airport will reopen soon and those stranded will be with their loved ones for the holidays.