Photographer gets in trouble for flying drone over scene of Harlem building explosion


posted Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 1:17 PM EST


The current legal status of using drones for photography is extremely nebulous. There has been some movement towards them being outside of the grasp of the FAA, but densely packed cities are not looking too fondly on their use, and after a crash in New York, a drone controller was arrested for reckless endangerment. Given that fact, you can see why it might not be the best idea to take your drone for a spin at the location of a disastrous building collapse in Harlem—but that's exactly what happened yesterday.

A building explosion in Harlem (believed to have been caused by a gas leak) has left four dead and 63 injured. Photographer Brian Wilson opted to try and photograph the chaos using a DJI phantom—getting him an angle no one else was capable of reaching. As you might imagine, the NYPD didn't take too kindly to someone buzzing over rescue crews and firefighters attempting to battle the disaster, and he was asked to bring his drone down.

This really just adds more fuel to the fire about the use of these devices. They can fly high enough that they might be considered a danger, and what happens if they fail, and come crashing down? On the flip side, why shouldn't a journalist be allowed to cover an event from the air, as long as they're not actively interfering?

One way or another, the use of photography drones is going to be a hotbed for debate for the immediate future.

(via Daily Dot, Gizmodo)