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News Link • Drones

How Low Is The Sky? And More Questions A Drone Legal Case Might Resolve

•, By Kelsey D Atherton
 Austrian Raphael "Trappy" Pirker has been flying drones and taking aerial photos as a hobby for about five years. But now he may have to pay $10,000 for an incident in October 2011, according to a complaint filed by the Federal Aviation Administration, alleging reckless flight over the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va., and taking paid compensation for aerial photography without being licensed.

Pirker's lawyers have already counter-filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. Bigger than this case are the legal gray areas it will clarify. The FAA is planning to accept drones into commercial airspace in 2015, but until then, unmanned aircraft—from toy RC planes to 8-foot storm chasers—are governed by old guidelines. The 2012 FAA re-authorization act provides rules for model airplanes in the transition before drone law is figured out, but Pirker's case* predates that. Here are the most important parts of the case:

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