FAA announces investigation into drone flying at 4/20 rally in Denver

April 23, 2014 8:51 | By | 1 Comment

The 4/20 marijuana rally in Denver was scene to a nervous and typical reaction by US authorities to a private hexacopter with a camera flying overhead and filming the event.

Denver police say they found two unidentified men flying a drone over the rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park. The men were asked to leave the top of the McNichols Civic Center Building because they didn’t have the proper permission.

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The FAA is now investigating this event, issuing several statements alleging that even private, non-commercial use of model aircraft may be a problem – if they don’t want you to, of course.

“Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft — manned or unmanned — in U.S. airspace needs some level of authorization from the FAA. Routine operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems over densely-populated areas is not allowed,” the FAA said in a statement.

Did the persons operating the hexacopter fly below 400ft AGL? We don’t know, but it appears the burden of proof is on the side of the FAA. However, it is disturbing to see the FAA mix and match regulations from manned flight operations, controlled airspace and commercial UAV regulations and apply bits and pieces to effectively claim that they are to be asked for permission for any flying thing. The fact of the matter however is that they are not, and while flying a multirotor craft over a public event may not be the most politically sensitive thing to do, it remains to be seen whether the FAA can substantiate their claims – or whether they’ll just wait until new, restrictive regulations are being passed into law. The FAA has issued a fact sheet regarding the use of UAVs, which of course does nothing to substantiate whether a flight such as in Denver is illegal or not. It should be noted that no arrests were made, and all the police could do was to “ask” the pilots to leave the roof of the building from which they were controlling the craft.

Our guess is that the US will see restrictive regulations and classifications eerily similar to the ones recently passed in Austria.

 

 

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Comments (1)

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  1. Paolo says:

    Flying over people buildings and road is prohibited, regardless of the 400 feet ceiling, which anyway applies only if within the 4 miles radius from an operated airpotr.

    Sorry but anyone flying a hobby drone above people is an idiot.
    it doesn’t matter if the actual drone didn’t fly over the head of anyone specific, unless the area of flight shows a clear demarcation, that keep people off, which was not the case here , flying in any high density area, it’s illegal.
    I am an FPV user, I don’t fly where there are people .. it’s freaking crazy,
    I know there tons of youtube videos of people doing exactly that, like it was ok .. that’s why the hobby is being banned all over the country, because there unfortunately allot of idiots

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