Drone shocks nudists at Swiss waterpark

Clients of a Bern waterpark who use a nudist sauna area were horrified to spot a drone hovering over them in the last few days.

Drone shocks nudists at Swiss waterpark
Photo: Marcel Chassot/Bernaqua

Andrea Bauer, a spokeswoman for Migros-Aar, which owns the Bernaqua waterpark, confirmed to daily 20 Minuten that clients had reported a drone above the exterior ‘relaxation’ area outside the nude sauna on several occasions.

“A customer told a lifeguard, who warned the security guards,” she said.

It’s currently not known whether the drone had a camera attached, Bauer added.

It’s not the first time such an incident has happened, she said, adding that the park is taking the situation very seriously.

“The people who visit that area [of the waterpark] are naked or wearing few clothes. Protecting their privacy is therefore all the more important.”

The park has informed the police, confirmed Bauer, since flying a drone over a crowd is illegal in Switzerland without specific authorization.

The Bernaqua waterpark is attached to the Westside shopping centre on the outskirts of Bern.

It has two sauna zones – one for women-only and one mixed – both of which are nudist.

Earlier this year the University of Neuchâtel launched a three-year study into the impact of drones on life in Switzerland, aiming to consider issues related to privacy, individual freedom, security, terrorism and the growing digitalization of daily life.


Drone comes within 20 metres of colliding with plane in Zurich

A drone almost crashed into a passenger plane near Zurich’s Kloten airport in late September in what safety authorities have called a "serious incident".

Drone comes within 20 metres of colliding with plane in Zurich
A file image of a drone. Photo: Peter Linehan

A Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A319 carrying 103 passengers and five crew members was about five nautical miles (9.2 kilometres) from Kloten’s runway 14 when a drone suddenly appeared 20 metres above the plane.

No one was injured in the incident but the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board is now investigating.

Under Swiss drone laws, it is illegal to fly a drone weighing 500 grams or more within five kilometres of landing fields and heliports without prior permission.

The Swiss Federal Aviation Office (FOCA) also told The Local on Thursday that the weight restriction would be lowered to 250 grams in future as the European Union rolls out new regulations around drone use.

For airports and heliports with air traffic control systems there are also designated control zones where drones can only fly to a maximum height of 150 metres above the ground.

The control zone around Zurich airport is marked in blue above. Image: swisstopo; FOCA

On Wednesday, a BAZL spokesperson said it would be next to impossible to identify the person operating the drone in the incident in late September because it would have been controlled from a distance via camera.

The spokesperson said that the amount of potential damage in such an incident depended on the size of the drone. He added that a collision between a plane and a drone might not lead to a crash but could still results in millions of francs in damage.

In 2016, the Swiss Federal Aviation Office (BAZL) put out a map showing where drone operators can and can't fly in the wake of a series of incident involving aircraft and drones.

But earlier this year, Swiss airlines safety boss Philipp Spörli told Zurich daily the Tages Anzeiger that many people flying drones were unaware of the rules.

BAZL is currently creating an electronic register of drone operators while authorities at Zurich airport are calling for training courses to be run.

Read also: It's OK to shoot down drones, say Swiss legal experts