The two suspects, a man and woman from the "Gatwick area", were held by cops on Friday night after another day of travel chaos at the Sussex airport which saw dozens of flights cancelled.
Suspected eco-warriors have caused three days of Christmas getaway hell with 1,000 flights cancelled or diverted, affecting 140,000 passengers since Wednesday night.
And passengers are being warned to expect a fourth day of chaos as Britain's second biggest airport
Driver Paul Motts, 52, spotted the man "in this 30s and in hi-vis clothing" in a country lane four miles from the runway. on Thursday night
He told The Sun he saw the unidentified man at 6.30pm on Thursday.
The EDF Energy manager said: “I was delivering a parcel and drove past a suspicious man in fluorescent cycling gear crouching over a large drone which was all lit up.
“It was a big thing with lights on its arms and roughly 4ft across.
“He had a smaller drone, about 2ft across, next to him.
“He was leaning over and doing something to it. He was totally focused and did not look up when I drove past.
“It looked like he was packing the drones away. Two minutes later we turned around and came across him cycling away.
“I expect he wanted to disassemble the drone as quickly as possible and get away as fast as he could.
“It was pretty weird considering what had happened at the airport during the day.”
Sussex Police said they took a man and a woman into custody after raids at 10pm last night "in the Gatwick area".
Police Superintendent James Collis said: "As part of our ongoing investigations into the criminal use of drones which has severely disrupted flights in and out of Gatwick Airport, Sussex Police made two arrests just after 10pm on 21 December.
"Our investigations are still ongoing, and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones by deploying a range of tactics.
"We continue to urge the public, passengers and the wider community around Gatwick to be vigilant and support us by contacting us immediately if they believe they have any information that can help us in bringing those responsible to justice."
The runway at Gatwick reopened this morning but passengers are urged to check their flights before travelling as as delays and cancellations are set to enter a fourth day.
A handful of flight that are due to arrive at Gatwick today have been cancelled, according to the airport's website, which include an easyJet service from Milan-Linate and a TUI flight from Bridgetown, Barbados.
A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: "Our runway is open and we aim to run a full schedule on Saturday December 22 – 757 flights scheduled today, carrying 124,484 passengers.
"Passengers should expect some delays and cancellations as we continue to recover our operations following three days of disruption and are advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport.
"Safety is Gatwick's top priority and we are grateful for passengers' continued patience as we work to get them to their final destination in time for Christmas."
He added that about 1,000 aircraft have been cancelled or diverted, affecting approximately 140,000 passengers, since Wednesday night.
The busts came as the airport reopened yesterday morning, after 33 hours and 760 cancelled flights.
Hours earlier the army thwarted ANOTHER attack leaving passengers in limbo as the cat and mouse game between the moronic drone pilot and authorities continued.
Speaking on Friday, chief executive of the airport Stewart Wingate said the drone flights were "highly targeted" and have "been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas".
He added: "These events obviously highlight a wider strategic challenge for aviation in this country which we need to address together with speed – the aviation industry, Government and all the other relevant authorities.
"It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way.
"This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again."
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has halted plans to introduce laws regulating the use of drones in Britain despite being warned about the risk they pose to airports, The Times reports.
The plans for a draft bill aimed at controlling drones and developing technology to stop them from being used near airports was quietly ditched this year.
Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, accused Gralyling of ignoring "well-known risks" from drones
He told The Times: "The government has glaringly failed to heed the warning and bring forward the legislation that was promise more than a year ago.
"Once again, there is a lack of leadership from the transport secretary."
THE Sun today offers a £10,000 reward for anyone who helps get the Gatwick drone wolf arrested and convicted.
Britain’s second busiest airport was paralysed for 36 hours causing Christmas mayhem for 200,000 passengers.
The drone was flown over the runway up to 50 times, leading to 760 flights being grounded or diverted. Experts say it could bring down a jet.
Anyone with information should call Sussex Police on 101 quoting Operation Trebor. Or they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Click here for full Sun Reward Terms & Conditions.
Christmas chaos at Gatwick, what we know so far…
- Gatwick was thrown into more chaos today as ANOTHER drone was spotted at 5pm near the runway
- Cops arrest two people for "criminal use of drones"
- Flights were suspended but the Army was able to thwart the flying menace and the airport reopened 80 minutes later
- Army has deployed 'drone killer' tech used in fight against ISIS jihadis
- Gatwick “partially re-opened” this morning with “limited number of planes”
- But travel chaos set to continue with 155 flights cancelled and others under threat
- ‘Eco warriors’ suspected to be behind attack as possible protest to airport expansion
- Thousands set for refunds and compensation after flights cancelled or delayed
Police believe more than one unmanned aircraft are responsible and are investigating the possibility of multiple culprits.
The Army yesterday brought in a £2.6million "drone killer" used to fight ISIS as cops identify “persons of interest” in the hunt for the Gatwick Grinch.
A motorist came forward saying he saw the culprit frantically packing up his drone kit and riding off on a bicycle.
Experts have warned that the flying machine could be “pre-programmed” by the pilot who could be miles away from the travel hub.
At around 5pm yesterday evening, an airport spokeswoman confirmed the devastating news that flights were once again suspended.
She added that airfield operations had been "temporarily suspended" due to an "unconfirmed report of a drone sighting."
However, just over an hour later, Gatwick confirmed that flights had resumed insisting "military measures" in place are working to keep passengers safe.
A statement said: "Flights have now resumed at Gatwick following a reported drone in the area.
"While we investigated, airfield movements were suspended. This was a precautionary measure as safety remains our main priority.
"The military measures we have in place at the airport have provided us with the reassurance necessary that it is safe to reopen our airfield."
Cops had claimed the net was closing on an eco warrior lone-wolf who has played a tense game of cat-and-mouse with an elite squad of police, Army and the RAF.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, from Sussex police, said detectives had narrowed down the search for the drone suspects.
He described the drone activity as "high-end criminal behaviour", adding: "This is really malicious."
The drone has flown close to Gatwick’s control tower and even flashed its lights at police officers in what appears to be deliberate taunts, reports The Mail.
A total of 91 of the 412 scheduled arrivals have been cancelled, while 64 of 371 scheduled departures have been axed.
Wayne McAffee and his family were due to travel to Belfast via Gatwick on Thursday after 10 days at Disneyland in Orlando.
The 35-year-old said they missed their connecting easyJet flight due to delays.
Mr McAfee said: "I'm sure (the airport and airline) are not enjoying this situation, I don't think it's their fault.
"I'm not saying it's a positive experience but there's no point getting upset. Whoever is doing the drones, I'm angrier at them."
Laura Cammarata, 27, lives in London and was due to travel to Sicily with her partner for Christmas.
She said they were booked on to a flight with Vueling on Thursday afternoon which was rescheduled for Friday, and has since been cancelled.
She said: "We did the whole process again, we got the train, we started queuing up and at some point they said it's cancelled again.
"We're trying to rebook and they're saying they can't book us on."
The couple said the alternative flights cost "three or four times" the original £400 they paid for the flights, and they are now looking at hiring a car to drive there.
Lena Balbek, 38, a project manager from Kiev who was visiting an agency in London, has been trying to return home since Thursday.
She said her flight with Ukraine International Airlines was re-scheduled for 7pm on Friday but it has now been pushed back until 10pm.
Ms Balbek said she paid for a hotel on Thursday night and does not expect to recover the costs.
"I'm disappointed it's been pushed back but we're alive and if they tell us it's okay, then I'll feel safe," she added.
Ana Trinanes feared she may not be able to spend Christmas with family in Spain after her second attempt to fly from Gatwick was placed in jeopardy.
The 49-year-old mother-of-two first arrived at the airport at 6am on Thursday, but her flight was cancelled because of the drone chaos.
Having slept in the airport overnight with fresh flights to eventually take her to family in Galicia booked, she learned her 8.55pm flight would be delayed as she was third-in-line to check in.
The personal assistant told the Press Association: "Oh my god, I want to cry, it is unbelievable – again.
"It's just a small drone against all the police and the army and everyone. It's unbelievable.
Meanwhile, it emerged today revealed that the Christmas chaos is the THIRD time a drone was flown into Gatwick airspace in the last 18 months.
Gatwick bosses are fighting to bring the airport back to normal after the drones plunged more than 200,000 passengers into Christmas chaos for the third day running.
Travellers have been told to expect disruption to last until Christmas Eve with pressure mounting on the authorities to catch the rogue drone operator.
The military have assembled an arsenal which includes a state-of-the art tracking system used by troops to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul, from jihadis.
The trackers will be deployed with drone killing tech to disable the remote-control aircraft.
It is understood the system will use 3D radars to search for drones in the area – before identifying them with tracking algorithms.
The equipment could also have sensors built in to spot the remote-controlled aircraft visually.
Once detected, a jamming transmission will disrupt the drone’s flight – causing a crash landing.
However, it appears authorities have employed a number of systems to detect the drones.
Among the technology spotted at Gatwick today was a 'Drone Dome'.
The system, costing £15.8m, uses radar and frequency jammers to find and overload a drone.
But instead of causing the aircraft to crash, the tech allows it to perform a ‘soft landing’ – meaning it can be retrieved undamaged.
Drone killing tech that's fighting ISIS
- An elite police and military force is using state of the art drone killing equipment to track down the rogue remote-controlled aircraft.
- This includes a state-of-the art tracking system used by British troops to liberate Mosul from jihadis.
- The trackers will be deployed with the drone killing tech to disable the remote-control aircraft.
- It is understood the system will use 3D radars to search for drones in the area – before identifying them with tracking algorithms.
- The equipment could also have sensors built in to spot the remote-controlled aircraft visually.
- Once detected, a jamming transmission will disrupt the drone’s flight – causing a crash landing.
- However, it appears the authorities have employed a number of systems to detect the drones.
- Among the technology spotted on Gatwick Airport Police Station was a 'Drone Dome'.
- The system, costing £15.8million, uses radar and frequency jammers to find and overload a drone.
- But instead of causing the drone to crash the tech allows it to perform a ‘soft landing’ – meaning the craft can be retrieved undamaged.
The MoD told The Sun Online: "We don't comment on ongoing operations."
But despite a trickle of good news working its way to hordes of passengers slumped in the airport's departure lounges – Gatwick bosses are refusing to give an exact time frame on when the disruption could end.
The airport's chief commanding officer Chris Woodroofe said he hoped it would be business as normal by the end of the day.
Flyers have been told to check with their airlines for updates before heading to the airport.
Earlier, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said 40 sightings had been reported of a "small number of drones".
Mr Grayling said it was possible that the drone chaos could have been caused by a foreign state but explained Gatwick was confident "passengers are now safe".
Grayling shelved plans to introduce laws regulating drone use in the UK despite being warned about the risk they posed to airports, The Times reports.
The Department for Transport ditched a draft bill this year aimed at controlling the use of the flying machines and cutting-edge technology to stop them flying near travel hubs, says the
The legislation was scrapped amid pressures on the department caused by Brexit, reports The Times.
Today cops said they are refusing to rule out that the chaos was caused by an environmental group.
Sussex Police assistant chief constable Steve Barry said: "It's certainly something that we would consider. Yes, I would agree that's a possibility."
He added: "We're working on the assumption that there was more than one drone operating around Gatwick in the last 48 hours.
"In terms of how many perpetrators, there's a number of lines of enquiry, there's an ongoing investigation, we're pursuing that trying to find out who has been responsible for this really malicious criminal behaviour."
He said there had been no opportunities to shoot down the drones, explaining: "We have to consider whether it's safe to do so, it has to be dynamically assessed at the time, in terms of the risk, and we have to assess whether it's going to be efficient, effective, how likely it's going to be we're going to be able to take the drone out.
"I have to say on the range of options we've got available, shooting the drone out of the sky is probably one of the least effective options."
Mr Barry said the drones could have been operated from a fair distance away, but police are focusing on "likely locations in and around the airport".
Experts say the skilled drone operator could be controlling the industrial scale craft from up to five miles away.
Gatwick's first flight since the airport was brought to its knees was a flight to Lapland this morning.
Night flights over Heathrow Airport have been approved to clear the backlog.
The saboteur has been playing cat-and-mouse with cops after shutting down Britain's second busiest airport by drones over the runway 50 times since Wednesday night.
Some 120,000 passengers on 760 cancelled flights were stranded yesterday – and chiefs warned disruption could last until Christmas Eve.
Yesterday cops said the drone Grinch was "deliberately" trying to cause Christmas chaos.
Commander Justin Burtenshaw of Sussex Police said: "Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears.
"When we look to reopen it reappears. I’m convinced it is a deliberate act to disrupt Gatwick."
One of the UK’s top drone experts said cops hunting the pilot could be getting the runaround from “a genius” showing off his intelligence.
Ex-Army captain Richard Gill, CEO of dronedefence.co.uk, said the technical know-how used suggested whoever is behind it could be educated to PhD level.
Mr Gill said: “He or she is just causing hell because they can and they want to test their limits. It’s the thrill of getting away with it.
“To have evaded police radar for so long suggests some serious capability."
Passengers set up temporary beds in camps amid two-hour queues for food and drink at the airport.
Hundreds of flights were diverted to airports across Britain and Europe, including Amsterdam, Paris, Bordeaux and Shannon, Ireland.
A Norwegian Air flight from New York’s JFK airport which was due to land at Gatwick at around 10am arrived a few minutes later at Doncaster’s Robin Hood airport – which became the UK's emergency airport.
Travellers then had to travel 200 miles back to London on coaches.
Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement sympathising with passengers.
She told reporters: “Obviously at this time of year this is particularly difficult for people.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told reporters the Army will use their “unique military capability" to assist cops.
He added: "It goes to demonstrate how our armed forces are always there ready to support the civilian authorities."
In July the Government restricted drones to 400ft and banned them from flying within 1km of an airport.
Recreational drones are fitted with GPS “geo-fencing” preventing them from flying near restricted airspace, including airports.
Have YOU been left stranded by the drone chaos at Gatwick? Call: 020 778 24376 or email [email protected]
Can I claim compensation?
- IF your flight is delayed or cancelled you might be due compensation of up to 600 euros (£542).
- How much you'll get depends on the length of the journey and the delay in reaching your final destination.
- You also must be travelling on an EU airline or a flight that departed from an EU airport, and the cause of the disruption has to be the airline's fault.
- As the problems at Gatwick have been caused by drones, this is outside of the airlines' control, which means you won't be due compensation.
- But you might be able to get a refund of your flight, a new flight, and food, drink and accomodation at the airport
Shocking footage posted online on Wednesday appeared to show one of the drones hovering just yards away from a packed passenger plane.
A mum-of-two said she has suffered an "emotional disaster" after spending Thuesday night on a cold floor with her eight-year-old-daughter and three-year-old son.
Yulia Hristova was meant to fly to Istanbul via Kiev at 3am on Thursday and has been at the airport since midnight.
She said: "With two kids I'm in a difficult position, I'm so tired, I'm so upset, we've had no information.
"We were sleeping on the floor, me and my children. I lost my son during the night, and a policeman brought him back."