Two Los Angeles Drone Pilots Face Criminal Charges For Flying Violations
Jan 21, 2016 11:08 PM EST
A Los Angeles City Attorney has filed criminal cases against two men, who are drone pilots, after they allegedly flew their gadgets in controlled airspace. The act was said to have violated flight regulations.
In a report by PC World, the men were flying their drones more than 400 feet, which goes against the new city ordinance that restricts such actions. The other restrictions are also not having drone flights during daytime and not within five miles of an airport. Accordingly, the drones in question were spotted by a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter.
The men have been identified as 20-year-old Michael Ponce and 35-year-old Arvel Chappell. Both were charged with flying above 400 feet and within five miles near an airport. Chappell was also charged with flying his drone at night.
Ponce was observed flying his drone over Griffith Park, which was within three miles of a number of hospital heliports. This took place last December 9 and police officials seized his gadget.
On December 12, Chappell was allegedly observed flying within a quarter of a mile from Hooper Heliport. Accordingly, the area is the Los Angeles helicopter base of downtown LAPD and a helicopter coming in to land had to change its flight path to avoid the flying device, Fierce Mobile IT reported.
If proven guilty, Inverse reported that they could face up to six months in prison and pay $1,000 in fines. If jailed, they will be the first two people sentenced and imprisoned for illegally flying a drone in the United States.
This comes in the heels of the drone registration program launched by the LAPD asking pilots to register before flying. The new rules came after a drone took out power lines last October in the city.
There have been no additional details yet as to when the court appearance of the two will be.