Trappy's Counsel File Motion To Dismiss


Well it's begun and this case will have an impact on all of you in the USA in one way or another. For those that did not hear about it Trappy is facing a $10,000 dollar fine.

The Complaint alleges that on or about October 17, 2011, Mr. Pirker (a Swiss citizen residing overseas) was the “pilot in command” of a “Ritewing Zephyr powered glider aircraft” in Charlottesville, Virginia. Compl.   It next asserts that “[t]he aircraft referenced above is an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).”  As a matter of undisputed public record, a Ritewing Zephyr is in fact a popular type of radio-control model airplane made of a kind of styrofoam and weighs approximately four and a half pounds once equipped with batteries, radio, motor, and other components.

The Administrator alleges that Mr. Pirker’s Zephyr was equipped with a camera, that Mr. Pirker operated the model for the purpose of supplying aerial video and photographs of the University ofVirginia campus to an advertising agency, and that he was compensated by that firm for the video and photographs.  4-6. The Complaint notes that Mr. Pirker does not hold an FAA pilot’s certificate.

The balance of the Complaint sets out a list of allegedly dangerous characteristics of Mr.Pirker’s operation of his model airplane on October 17, 2011. It alleges that he “operated the abovedescribed aircraft at extremely low altitudes over vehicles, buildings, people, streets, and structures.”  More specifically, it alleges, inter alia, that he operated the model airplane “through a UVA tunnel containing moving vehicles,” “below tree top level over a tree lined walkway,” “within approximately 15 feet of a UVA statue,” “within approximately 50 feet of railway tracks,” “within approximately 25 feet of
numerous UVA buildings,” and “directly towards a two story UVA building below rooftop level and made an abrupt climb in order to avoid hitting the building.”

Patrick Egan of sUAS News was given access to documents today and he wrote:-

Without a doubt, there is a lot riding on this issue for both the community and FAA. As we have seen in the past, people start to line up on those different sides of those issues with independent views on how the law works, what image the community should portray. Whatever the eventual outcome, we should at the very least have a better understanding and some clarification on how the process is supposed to work, and discern where exactly the U.S. RPAS community stands.

More at

Trappy, along with Chris Anderson is a speaker next week at the Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • Note that Charlottesville has a local ordinance now.  The brief does not address that nor do I have a current view on its enforceability.  (Trappy's flight was 2011.)


  • I'm a drone flyer who lives in Charlottesville...... Guess I should stay out of the skies for a while when I visit home then. And for the record, there isn't enough space, with all the trees and buildings, to fly a plane of that size, that low. Nor are there any "tunnels" within a mile or two of campus. This should be cleared up shortly.

  • There is no hearing scheduled yet.  I believe the administrative law judge will consider the motion when the NTSB reopens. 

  • My favorite part "within approximately 15 feet of a UVA statue" Oh Dear...

  • Moderator

    The FAA seem to be closed due to the spending cuts, they probably wont turn up for the hearing anyway.  Case dismissed. !!

  • Trappy,

       Best wishes on getting this case dismissed.  Anyone who has viewed your many flights should be able to come away knowing that you're no amateur.

  • Federal sources that I have spoken with believe the that the FAA will have a hard time making it stick.

  • Pretty silly


    The FAA is Fining someone for flying a RC airplane.


    PS: I love to fly and nobody pays me, However like my guns you have no chance government of ever taking my toys while I still draw breath. In 1000s of FPV flights I have hurt nobody and damaged no property

    I am not going to bribe your politicians for a certificate for something I am already an expert at unless its cost is similar to a drivers license

  • Moderator

    This is undoubtedly the BEST written and presented document that describes the current situation in the USA. It is a great insight to the FAA and how it works or does not work depending on your point of view. 

    I personally wish Trappy all success with this case and I hope that the case is dismissed.

    His videos have entertained many people and they have been instrumental in bringing many new faces to the world of UAV's and to demonstrate the immense possibilities for this technology. 

    Some people have criticized him for his flights claiming "Too low, Too fast, Too close " etc. They may be correct BUT remember that he is also one of the most expert fliers in this activity with well prepared equipment and systems. That does not make him perfect. 

    good luck Trappy. 


  • I should publice this case here (Switzerland). The swiss aren't big fans of the "drones", but anything to pull the Americans over the coals will be consumed with considerable glee (those in the financial industry will know why).

This reply was deleted.