Rogue Drone Ends Up Costing Pilot $20,000


It’s that time of the year again and drones and airports are showing the world just how much they don’t mix.

Photo by Inmortal Producciones from Pexels.

One drone pilot who lost control of his device is facing a $USD 20,000 fine after his UAV decided to fly off course and land at an airport. How’s that for bad luck?

As we reported last year, some drones at London’s Heathrow airport caused some real chaos for travelers during the holiday season.

Yet, even before that, we were reporting on how much of a problem drone pilots were proving for some airports around the world and how this was one of the major concerns impacting the growing UAV community going forward.

While on vacation in Las Vegas in 2018, California resident Reuben Burciaga piloted his DJI Phantom 3 from his hotel but then it decided to take off on its own and landed near a Las Vegas McCarran International Airport runway.

Burciaga said he wanted to get some shots of the strip but that the drone lost its GPS mid flight and then decided to fly itself to one of the world’s busiest airports.

Fox 5 KVVU reports that flying a drone over the strip requires prior authorization so Burciaga was in the wrong to start. The station featured some of the footage captured by Burciaga’s drone which you can view here.

After landing, the drone was found by some airport workers and it was identified as Burciaga’s by the FAA and returned to him in April of this year along with a fine for some $USD 14k. He ignored the notices from the government and apparently racked up late fees that pushed the total to over $USD 20,000. Burciaga admits his culpability in the drone’s errant landing but thinks that the fines are somewhat excessive.

What do you think? Are the fines from the FAA excessive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, don’t forget to check out our other photography news stories on Light Stalking by clicking here.


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

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