The approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will enable Buxton Mountain Rescue Team’s eight trained pilots to use the unmanned aerial vehicles to search for missing persons in places where access is difficult or unsafe for its members.
It marks the culmination of an 18-month project which involved a successful appeal to raise the £10,000 required to purchase equipment and train the pilots. As a registered charity, the team is solely reliant on donations from the public.
Team leader Neil Carruthers said: “The approval from the CAA demonstrates that they have the confidence that the systems and procedures the rescue team has in place are safe and effective.
“I am delighted that we are the first mountain rescue team in England and Wales to successfully gain approval to use drones for search and rescue.
“The drones will allow the team to search areas such as boulder fields, water margins, moorlands, crags and difficult ground.”
Mr Carruthers said the new technology would complement the team’s other search resources, including members on the ground and its search dogs, which continued to play an important part in rescue operations.
He added: “I would like to congratulate all the team who have been involved in the training and especially the pilots who have demonstrated not only a good theoretical knowledge, but also the ability to plan drone operations as well as practical competence in the safe use of our unmanned aerial vehicles.”
The fundraising campaign was launched by magazine Pure Buxton and featured individual donations and contributions from a range of organisations including Derbyshire County Council, High Peak Borough Council, the Buxton Billerettes, Poynton Round Table and the Women’s Institute.