A Most Unusual Response

Following the publication of an article I wrote in SUAS News, A Vacuum of Silence, I received a tremendous amount of support and thanks from members of the drone community. It seems that I’d voiced feelings that many were experiencing, namely a frustration with a lack of support from ARPAS-UK and DJI.

One response, which I received today, stood out however for all the wrong reasons. The chairman of ARPAS-UK, Gavin Wishart emailed me to express his displeasure about my article.

I’m accustomed to people objecting to my views and opinions and have no issue with disagreement at all. I find that open, honest dialogue conducted in a respectful manner is a great way to clarify misconceptions and move a subject forward. Unfortunately, it’s not a sentiment that Gavin appears to share.

In his email, he claimed the article was an “ill-informed”, “…lazy swipe at the Association [ARPAS-UK]”. Then he proceeded to suggest I join the organisation.

In terms of membership drives, it’s not the best approach to start out with insults, but I appreciated his reaching out and responded to give him the opportunity to clarify his position and explain why he felt it was ill-informed.

In doing so I hoped he would be able to give me examples of situations where ARPAS-UK had defended drone users by questioning the police response and the hysterical media narrative. Instead his response was short:

“I take the view that the media narrative is usaully [sic] ill-informed, yours included.

You clearly didn’t hear what I said on national television”

I expect to be trolled by bored keyboard warriors, but for the chairman of ARPAS-UK to respond in such an unprofessional and childish manner was deeply disappointing.

If I was a member of ARPAS-UK paying between £180 – £960 a year I’d be reconsidering my association with them. If their chairman can do nothing other than hurl insults rather than address serious concerns about their organisational approach to the industry it speaks to the character of ARPAS-UK.

It’s a shame that they didn’t speak out in the days following Gatwick to defend drones and question the hysteria that led to the closure of the airport. It’s absurd though, that their chairman feels the need to engage in a petty spat via email rather than learn from their mistakes and listen to the many voices that are frustrated with their passive response to the incessantly negative media narrative surrounding drones and Gatwick.

If anything Gavin Wishart’s emails have reaffirmed my views on the lack of ARPAS-UK to adequately defend or protect the UK drone industry.


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