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Law And Order

Man fined $10,000 for remote-controlled airplane

Is a model airplane a drone? The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says yes, and as such any commercial use is illegal. That's the logic that has allowed the government to fine a man $10,000 for using a model airplane to take aerial footage of a hospital to use in a commercial.

The FAA lost its initial attempt to levy the fine, with the presiding judge noting that the agency's arguments could eventually subject the operator of "a paper aircraft, or a toy balsa wood glider" to FAA control. That decision has now been reversed, and the FAA is proceeding with the fine.

The plane operator, an Austrian named Raphael Pirker, also took video of New York City from above, flying close to the Statue of Liberty without any objections from local law enforcement. The "drone" in question, a Ritewing Zephyr II, is a hobbyist's kit which has a wingspan of less than five feet and can be viewed here.