An air ambulance narrowly avoided being hit by a drone, a chief pilot has said.
The remote-controlled craft came within 10ft (3m) of the helicopter, which was returning to its base at Nostell, Wakefield.
Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) said the drone was being flown at an illegal height of 1,300ft (396m).
It said a collision was only avoided thanks to “the vigilance of our front-seat paramedic” and “the rapid reaction of our pilot”.
YAA Chief Pilot Steve Waudby said the near-miss, at about 18:50 BST on Wednesday, “put the lives of our crew in extreme danger”.
Crew members were returning from Bradford when they spotted the drone, the charity said.
It went underneath the helicopter when the ambulance pilot lifted high into the air to avoid it.
“The consequences don’t bear thinking about if a direct strike had occurred,” said Mr Waudby.
“We’d be telling a very different story today if it had.”
He said it was “ironic” that the charity had spent most of the day working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on a drone awareness film.
Mr Waudby said the drone was being flown at more than three times the permitted height of 400ft (120m).
He appealed to the operator of the “very, very distinctive” device to come forward and said that police had been informed.
The CAA said it was awaiting a report from the air ambulance operator.
The Drone Code:
- Don’t fly near airports or airfields
- Remember to stay below 400ft (120m)
- Observe your drone at all times – stay 150ft (50m) away from people and property
- Never fly near aircraft
- Enjoy responsibly
According to figures from the UK Airprox Board (UKAB), which investigates near-misses with aircraft, there were 125 involving drones reported in 2018, up from 93 in 2017.
In July, flights into and out of Leeds Bradford Airport were halted for about 45 minutes after a drone was spotted nearby.
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