The Grand Canyon

Here it is, the Grand Canyon. This one shows one of the worst encounters with officials regarding our UAV projects to date. Nevertheless, it's one of the most beautiful places to fly at. To stay out of trouble, fly into the Grand Canyon from outside the National Park fences.

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  • If you want to do something simple legally just file a small claims action against them for the max (usually $2000). The small claims fee is usually anywhere from $20-50, and if you notify the media it's sure to make the news.  Maybe bad publicity + paying a fine to you will = less nazi pigs on the force.

  • Ed Kirk, North Rim is closed in Winter :(

  • and your guilty until proven innocent, Humm or is it the other way around????? well I can't tell any more these days

  • Trappy - Well, you've certainly accomplished a lot in those two years, as your latest video has shown. Truly incredible footage. And I think you deserve kudos for doing this on a student's budget (I've only recently come out of that status, and I'm still paying my dues financially and have no grants or funding helping me out, so I feel you on that one). It shows dedication and a lot of innovation.

    Just be careful is all I recommend. Again, my advice would be to not kick up any dust from local authorities in this matter. They could really make it hard on you. Other than that, again, great footage.

  • Beautiful video, beautiful day.  Obviously the park rangers didn't want to waste the day (days) on papework. 

    The Grand Canyon is  a national treasure for all to enjoy.  I still remember the ************* that flew his RC plane into the Goodyear blimp in Carson, CA back in the 70's.  We lost a lot of good flying sites over that one.  It made national news too.

    It looks like the North Rim, there are lots of areas with no handrails and fewer people.


  • Contact the news media for that area and explain what the dirty law in forcement did maby make national news law enforcement does not like bad publicity they loose funding that way
  • Well, all I can say is I've been hard at work for TBS since 2 years and I wanted to get some time off and fly with a few buddies in a place far away from home and work. It was as recreational as it gets. We put logos in our videos so people stop asking us what kind of gear we use. we don't advertise our site in our videos (or any other website). the fact that we sell what we fly with doesn't make the flight commercial.

    the rules for commercial operations are relaxing, though, so that's good. I hope the non-commercial stuff stays the same. it's the most awesome hobby in the world :)

  • Trappy -- I figured the drone was flying commercially because you begin your video with several logos from HobbyKing and GoPro. If they are financing you with the expectation that you place those logos in your video, that makes your video promotional and therefore makes the operation of your UAS "for hire." Likewise, your website seems to be a store front for FPV equipment, and you also advertise "for hire" services (, which makes the video ostensibly promotional and thus commercial.

    I'm not just saying that "commercial" or "for hire" is the litmus test for non-authorization, either. The SDG is clear that even operation of UAS for educational purposes requires authorization. Every UAS that is not recreational requires FAA authorization. Even nonprofit journalism, which is the purpose my organization is developing UAS for, requires a COA - and we are only able to do that by being adopted through a Federally-funded land grant institution, with a POC at that university, and a legal document from the state's attorney verifying that the university is, in fact, a university. In other words, a ton of red tape. And we have to own or lease the drone for 90 days before we have authorization.

    It's very confounding, but them's the rules.

  • Matthew Schroyer, how do you figure that the flight was done commercially? In that case we'd have needed a permit from the GC NPS for commercial filming. However, this is simply not the case. We do not receive cash or any other form of payment for these flights.

    Richard, we have quite a few interview requests from media about the issue. I am awaiting one last mail from the Chief Ranger at the GC NPS before I go ahead and pretty much do what you suggested to do :)

  • I'm (of course) not a lawyer, but as it's been stated here, but it's basic First Amendment legal knowledge that law enforcement cannot take your memory card like that. Under normal circumstances, police would need to subpoena the media in court, but they cannot confiscate anything offhand. Only if you're using that camera in commission of a crime can police legally take the camera and/or media from you.

    Having said that, however, I personally would not pursue any such legal action. You probably would win the card back in court, if they don't already mail it back to you to avoid legal wrangling, and I'm not sure about punitive damages. However, if you get in a fight with these authorities on the matter, it's going to kick up some dust. That will probably not work in your favor.

    I don't know who these people are that you are dealing with, but they don't have the authority to enforce FAA rules. Having said that, they could take an hour to call the FAA and tell them about the case, who could then file charges against you for flying without authorization. I don't exactly know what the fines are for that (or possibly jail time), but it is not insignificant.

    The FAA made it pretty clear in its Significant Guidance Document FAA-2006-25714 that flying a UAS for hire is not legal without authorization. And the FAA is not giving out that type of authorization for the time being. Sure, the rules from a legal standpoint seem capricious -- why is a hobby-grade UAS authorized when its used for recreation under 500 feet, yet the same platform used at the same altitude for commercial purposes is somehow unauthorized? -- but that takes time and money to argue in court. Winning that legal argument is not guaranteed.

    I only say this because my organization has been in contact with the FAA to get authorization, and they've let us know they are building cases and pursuing the people who fly without authorization. You may not hear it in the news, or on boards, but it is happening. Anyone can call up the FAA themselves to verify this.

    You've got some awesome footage, and by far some of the most impressive shots I've ever seen anyone produce using this equipment. Please do be careful, so that you can continue learning and making these videos.

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