New Zealand Photographer Illegally Flies Drone Over Beijing, Captures Epic Video


Drone photography, including amazing aerial footage, is becoming quite commonplace. But there are still some restricted areas that are off limits entirely to drones.

Yet, as with many of our other stories about drones, often the pilot is unaware of these restrictions or doesn’t care.

And these incidents sometimes make the news and prompt calls for further government regulation of this largely unregulated area.

For some people, though, the footage is worth it no matter the consequences and for one photographer and drone enthusiast from New Zealand, the epic video he captured made his brief arrest in Beijing time well spent.

Image via zhang kaiyv from

Meet New Zealand photographer Trey Ratcliff, an intrepid drone pilot that compared flying above the capital of the People’s Republic of China to a scene from a Star Wars movie in an interview with Resource Mag Online.

Trey has captured a lot of epic footage and taken beautiful pictures from locations all across the globe. Little did he know, however, that the drone laws in Beijing are strict – as in, drone piloting is totally banned.

Understandable, given that Beijing is the capital of the PRC. Take that and couple it with the highly secretive nature of governments in general and you are probably treading on thin ice flying drones around a capital city.

All was well for a couple of days until one day Trey found himself face to face with Chinese police and answering questions in a windowless cell. After viewing his footage and some of his work, the officials determined that he wasn’t a threat to government security and released him. Not the most comfortable of times, we’re sure, but the photographer thinks his video of Beijing speaks for itself.

And, indeed, it does. Probably capturing some of the coolest footage of the city yet scene, Trey’s brief stint in a Chinese interrogation cell did pay dividends in terms of adding to his artistic collection. In the end, we all benefit from his ignorance of the law and Beijing’s lenience with regard to his violation of their laws.

You can view Trey Ratcliff’s aerial footage of Beijing on YouTube by clicking here.

About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

Sorry but I’m not impressed. Trey, being a responsible drone pilot, should have been aware of the applicable local laws and obeyed them. He makes things tougher for those who follow him. Stupid man. PS he’s not a Kiwi – he was born in Dallas and lives in New Zealand.

This article should not have been written. You are as irresponsible as Trey. What you are doing, Kehl, is telling people that it is totally acceptable to break the law, as long as you get what you want. I did not read your article, nor did I view the video. As long as there are people such as you and Trey, then people will think that they are above the law. Shame on you both. If he attempts this in the future, I hope the Chinese jail him for twenty years, ban him from China, for life, and the U. S. Department of State does not intervene.

Please stop writing revolting articles such as this, endorsing law breakers. From this point forward, I will no longer read any article with your name attached.

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