I'm afraid this is going to be a long and probably controversial post. More popcorn required for this one.
I've been flying PPG for nearly 10 years now, with a lot of air time (Southern Spain) 1500+ hrs, and GA (Cessna's and 'A' class kit planes) for 25 years.
Unfortunately, I have a medical, neurological condition which prevents me from conforming to rules that are set by desk jockeys, rules that are not based on any informed analysis or common sense. As a policeman (retired) this did me no favours with the bosses as I tended to let everyone off, well those that broke rules that I believed were politically motivated, for example possession/consumption of cannabis, stupid non dangerous motoring offences; One day we'd be told to hammer the motorist with no discretion, and the next we'd be told to leave the motorist alone (wtf). My take was always stop them, bollock them and send them on their way without assaulting their wallet.
I preferred to spend my time trying to stop crimes against individuals (mostly unsuccessfully thanks to a judicial system hell bent on defending criminals ).
Going back to flying. I consider the skill of 'risk assessment' in any given situation a dying art, courtesy of an agenda driven 'nanny state' mentality that has all but been completely accepted. Perceived health and safety infringement has now made any form of risk taking largely frowned upon. This (IMO) is a huge mistake as FUNDAMENTALLY young men need to take risk... in order to have the nerve to go and hunt the woolly mammoth. The truly devastating result of this is just starting to show. "Men in the UK aged 20 to 49 are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death". https://www.esquire.com/uk/culture/a9202/britain-male-suicide-crisis/
Sorry, I digress again, back to flying. If I am honest, I can probably say that I break the 500ft rule with virtually every flight that I make, in that I will probably fly my 25kg back pack with 10 litres of gas at 20 mph closer than 500ft to some or other building, structure, person, vehicle). However, I can confidently say I have never broken this rule in my 1000kg Cessna with 188litres of Avgas travelling at 120mph , because that would be really dangerous, and alarming to 100% of those who would witness it.
Those of you that think there is no difference between the 2 because the law is the law, should probably stop reading this now, as we are NEVER going to see eye to eye. But, whilst flying my PPG I have never broken my own risk assessment rules, which at any one time preserve the safety of any person, vehicle, building, structure.
I suppose l liken a PPG to a bicycle (+ a few kg's). If it hits you, yeah it's going to hurt, but in all likelihood you would only be coming down if the prop was no longer spinning, and your speed during a flare would be similar to a bicycle, so my common sense says that it should not be subject to the same rules as a Cessna.
I know I started this thread by saying this act by Green Peace will not help our sport, and I stand by this statement, not because I believe there was any danger to anyone on the ground, but because it was an act that was so high profile it could motivate some high level desk jockey trying to make a name for himself, or even trying to justify his high paid position, to sit up and feel compelled to take action and create legislation for the wrong reasons.
As humans, we are manipulatable to the point that we are programable to think and believe virtually anything they want us to believe, by instilling fear, a need to conform and the need to fit in. However, some people; those that understand this, and wish to see the real picture, tend to put their faith in mathematics. They look at the numbers, and then ask themselves; ACTUALLY what are the chances of this bad outcome happening. If it's say 1 in 10,000, imagine 10,000 table tennis balls in a big bowl. One has a red dot. What are the real chances of pulling out that red dotted ball?
I've gone off at another tangent....No I'm not stoned, I've just got so many thoughts on the subject ??
In some respects, this modern day fear of taking risks has had an unexpected but really positive impact on our sport, as it keeps the numbers low. Danny B is a good example of this. PPG was obviously too scary for him (I get that), but he felt the need to create this poor story about giving up because of other pilots (bless).
This has the effect of keeping the numbers low enough to be uninteresting to politicians, unlike Drones which require no risk to be taken by the pilots, just a bit of cash, and therefore have sold in the billions making them a genuine target for governments around the world to create heavy handed legislation, and demonise drone pilots.
The response I get flying low along the beach in my PPG armed with my massive resolution Nikon D800 and 300mm lens compared to the response I get flying over the same beach with my Phantom 4 Pro is laughable. One takes wide angle pictures where you can just make out that there are people on the beach, whereas the other can zoom in to a sunburnt belly button. They wave and smile at the PPG and confront and get angry at me for flying the drone. Programmed by the self-serving bureaucrats they'll never meet.