Swift action from FAA, US Navy follows Detroit Blue Angels drone incident

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Earlier this week, the Blue Angels flew over Detroit, Michigan, to honor frontline workers. There wasn't a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) in place but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) always issues a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) whenever a major event involving manned aircraft is planned. One remote pilot decided to fly his drone dangerously close to the fleet and is now in trouble with the FAA, U.S. Navy, and local authorities.

The drone community was outraged, as well. One individual who felt their wrath, for simply re-posting footage that wasn't his, is Vic Moss of Moss Photography. 'My take is that those people who are so vitriolic to me did so out of passion for the industry. While I most certainly did not appreciate it, and its caused no end up exasperation to me, it was all done out of passion for the industry,' Moss tells DPReview of the thousands of threats and complaints he received over the past few days.

Besides illegal activity, the author of the original footage used copyrighted music in his clip from the classic film "Top Gun."

Even with the title 'REPOST! THIS IS NOT MY VIDEO...,' Moss was compelled to remove the clip, that was viewed over 133,000 times, not only to stop harassment but also for a Copyright claim over the soundtrack the original author chose for the footage – 'Danger Zone' by Kenny Loggins from the movie Top Gun.

This is how close the drone got to a fleet of Blue Angels flying over Detroit. Some experts are speculating that is was as close as 100 feet away from the nearest aircraft.

The original minute-long clip, where a drone propeller can be seen buzzing in the corner frame, and in close proximity to the planes, featured credits including the social handle @GIOLUCIA that syncs up with the name Giovanni Lucia on Instagram. The account has since been removed and Lucia has denied taking the footage. He claims he uploaded it for a friend. Regardless of who played what role, posting the footage in a public forum was almost as unwise as taking it.

Dean Greenblatt, who recently secured a victory for the Michigan Coalition of Drone Operators in an unrelated case, commented to DPReview about this incident: 'FAA regulations mandate operators of sUAS comply with right-of-way limitations. Social media provides an excellent opportunity for individuals to incriminate themselves.'

'I've handled several FAA enforcement actions against sUAS operators. Typically, the FAA becomes aware of violations through electronic publication. Videos can establish flight in restricted airspace, flight over people, or in proximity to emergency service providers. Such documentary evidence makes it difficult to mount a defense to FAA enforcement actions,' Greenblatt concludes.


An investigation is already underway. Sources claim that even though it may be someone else besides Lucia who captured the footage, both parties face significant legal repercussions for their actions.

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