Drones Behaving Badly

Drone pilot captures amazing — and likely illegal — aerial footage of Dallas

Drone captures amazing — and likely illegal — aerial footage of Dallas

A drone pilot's joy ride around Dallas is attracting the attention of federal authorities. On June 10, the unidentified pilot posted a YouTube video of his drone flying over a host of local landmarks.

He even lamented the loss of one copter on the roof of AT&T Stadium. "I don't know what's in that area, but I couldn't keep a live video feed to save my soul flying around these stadiums and stuff," the pilot says.

 "I figured if I flew too low during a live event, I might get security up my ass," the pilot says.

According to NBC DFW, workers at AT&T Stadium spent the better part of Tuesday searching for the lost drone, which will be returned to its owner.

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said it "may pursue enforcement action against model aircraft operators who endanger the safety of the national airspace system."

The FAA's model aircraft operating standards, which were created in 1981, state that hobbyists cannot fly higher than 400 feet. In the video, the pilot estimates his altitude as 700 feet.

He also captured aerial images of downtown Dallas, Hurricane Harbor, Six Flags and Globe Life Park, where the Rangers were preparing to play a game.

"I figured if I flew too low during a live event, I might get security up my ass," the pilot says while country music blasts in the background.

FAA public affairs manager Lynn Lunsford says that all aircraft operators flying in downtown Dallas must be in contact with air traffic controllers, regardless of altitude, because of the proximity to Love Field Airport.

The drone pilot, who says he is from Austin, appeared unaware or at least unconcerned with any possible ramifications of his actions. "They got a big ol' restaurant up there," he says casually as his copter flies past Reunion Tower.

When his joy ride continued deeper into downtown, he offered off-the-cuff commentary on the skyscrapers.

"I know that's a tall mother ****er right there," the pilot says as his drone zeros in on the 72-story Bank of America Plaza. "I guess I could've looked up some of the info before I started recording audio on this."

Next, the pilot sets his sights on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. "I don't know what the name of this damn bridge is. It just looks neat so I thought I'd fly over it," he says.

Blissfully unaware of any trouble he might be in, the pilot offers the city a fond farewell as he flies off into the sunset. "So long, Dallas. I'll come see you again in a couple of years."

Reunion Tower and Hyatt Regency Dallas
A drone pilot appears to violate federal regulations as he flies over downtown Dallas. Photo courtesy of Reunion Tower
AT&T Stadium in Arlington
A drone crashed atop AT&T Stadium recently. Courtesy photo
Globe Life Park in Arlington on opening day 2015
Globe Life Park in Arlington. Photo by Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas.
Reunion Tower and Hyatt Regency Dallas
AT&T Stadium in Arlington
Globe Life Park in Arlington on opening day 2015
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas