Fireworks flight lands drone flier in FAA fracas


posted Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 6:39 PM EST


By now, you've doubtless seen the recent viral video of Nashville's July 4th celebrations, shot with a DJI Phantom quadcopter from the point of view of the fireworks themselves. The original video has been viewed tens of thousands of times since it was uploaded a week ago, and it's been widely shared elsewhere in blogs and the mainstream media.

But while many who've viewed the clip have been thrilled by the first-person view from the heart of the July 4th spectacle, not everybody is amused and entertained by amateur drone pilot Robert Hartline's feat. According to an article in the Tennessean, Hartline's flight is now the subject of an FAA investigation.

Hartline himself seems unconcerned by the investigation, reportedly telling the Tennessean's Heidi Hall that "somebody was much more likely to have an accident on the way to the show than for [the drone] to fall out the sky and land on them".

Robert Hartline's aerial fireworks video, now the subject of an FAA investigation.

For its part, the federal agency didn't comment on the case, beyond confirming that it had received two complaints from members of the public, and that an investigation was now taking place. As we've seen over the past year or two, though, numerous pilots of unmanned aerial vehicles -- or "drones", as the mainstream media likes to badge them -- have found themselves on the wrong side of the FAA, particularly when their activities were judged commercial in nature.

And while he's not a professional photographer or videographer, it could be argued that Hartline's video -- bookended with ads for a Nashville carpooling app he's planning to launch later this year -- was commercial in nature, designed to generate buzz and media coverage for the app.

What do you think -- was Hartline's decision to shoot the 'works from the air justifiable, or does the FAA have a point here about the potential dangers of flying around uncontrolled projectiles and near large crowds of people? Sound off in the comments below!

(via Digital Trends)