'My fingers were almost cut off by a drone'

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Image of James AndrewsImage source, James Andrews
Image caption,
James, 43, says government plans to introduce drone registration and safety awareness are a "good idea"

WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT: You may find some of these images distressing.

When James Andrews' friend invited him over to the beach earlier this month to try out his drone, it appeared to be any regular Saturday.

It was James' first experience with the small unmanned aircraft but it ended in disaster, nearly blinding him and leaving him with serious injuries.

"It all happened so quickly. I didn't realise what it could actually do," James, 43, told the BBC.

On Saturday, the government announced plans to introduce drone registration and safety awareness courses for owners of drones.

Aviation minister Lord Callanan said it would help counter the misuse of drones, reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions and protect the public.

Image source, James Andrews
Image caption,
During his first drone experience, James Andrews was left with deep cuts on his arms and fingers

James, who lives on the outskirts of Radstock, Somerset, went to spend the day with his friend at Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis.

His friend, who owned the drone, had taken a few safety lessons but it was the first time they had tried it solo.

"The landing gear wasn't coming down. It was hovering just over two metres from the ground. So I went to grab it so my friend could turn it off.

"I held it for about six seconds until all of a sudden, the landing gear came down on my fingers. I immediately let go and then it hit my arms and face.

"I could see the tendons in my right thumb and the deep cuts on my arms."

Image source, James Andrews
Image caption,
James suffered injuries to his hands and could see the tendon on his right thumb

"I was taken to hospital where the doctors operated to make sure my tendons and muscles weren't severed and stitched me back up.

"The drone also hit my eye and I was very close to losing my eyesight," James added.

"I've had to take unpaid leave from work which has been difficult as I have a wife and two children to support."

Now, three weeks on from the incident, James says he is recovering and could see himself using drones again.

But he says he would ensure to be fully aware of all the risks involved.

Commenting on the new government plans, he added: "I think it's a good idea because we shouldn't have them in wrong hands.

"What if a child had been in my place? They're like kitchen knives on the ends of these blades. It's very frightening."

Many airports have reported near misses between drones and aircraft. Last November, two orb-shaped drones got as close as 500m to a passenger jet flying into Heathrow Airport.

Thirty minutes after the incident, another passenger jet approaching Heathrow flew within just 50m of what is believed to have been one of the drones.

The UK government says the introduction of new measures both prioritises "protecting the public" while also "maximising the full potential of drones".

Last week, the UK's first police drone unit launched in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

By Lamia Estatie, UGC and Social News Team