A DRONE company boss has warned people who got them for Christmas they risk serious injury if they don’t follow strict safety rules.

Matt Williams, 31, a former helicopter pilot, also said people should avoid using the popular flying machines in their back gardens.

The ex-RAF Benson instructor, who runs Aerial Motion Pictures, said: “There is the potential for very serious injury with a drone.

“People try to fly them in their back gardens but they shouldn’t.

“They would be much better off going out to some open countryside and seeking the landowner’s permission to fly them there.

Our top stories

“If people have bought a drone for Christmas they must take great care – they need to know the regulations and read the manual to fly it safely.”

Mr Williams’ warning came shortly after four-time defending overall World Cup champion skier Marcel Hirscher narrowly avoided being hit by a drone during an Alpine race in Italy.

There have also been reports of drones buzzing commercial airliners as they come in to land.

The British Airline Pilots Association has warned that a recent boom in sales could affect airspace safety. It wants a registration system so drone users can be traced and prosecuted for reckless flying.

Father-of-one Mr Williams, whose company is based near Wallingford, said customers have been spending up to £1,000 on average with more than 100 drones bought in the run-up to Christmas.

His business, which offers a range of commercial drone licensing courses as well as aerial filming, photography and retail services for companies, is expanding.

He added: “At the beginning of the new year we will have 10 people working for us while at the beginning of this year there was only two of us.

“We are moving into new, bigger premises at Howbery Park.”

Aerial Motion Pictures is one of the UK’s first companies providing practical knowledge needed for full Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Commercial UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) certification to fly a drone.

The firm offers commercial training courses for individuals and companies who use drones, and also sells them to the public as well as businesses.

Mr Williams was a helicopter instructor with the RAF for 13 years, rising to the rank of flight lieutenant before he left to concentrate on his business.

In September, Thames Valley Police revealed that 31 incidents involving drones had been reported in the past two years.

Aerial Motion Pictures sells drones starting from £500 up to £30,000 and its commercial licensing courses start from £1,500.

Mr Williams added: “The drones people are buying are the intermediate ones – the Phantom 3 quadcopters, which are not huge.”

Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Police’s drone adviser Pc Andy Sparshott urged people buying drones to be aware of safety regulations after an unmanned aircraft came within a wing’s length of two aircraft that were landing at Southampton Airport.