Dronethusiast: Raphael “Trappy” Pirker on Settlement With FAA
Team Blacksheep lead pilot Raphael “Trappy” Pirker has settled a civil penalty after a long and frustrating legal struggle with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA accepted the $1,100 settlement after spending an estimated $300,000 in taxpayer money to prosecute Trappy’s case. The agency sought to fine Pirker $10,000 for a “reckless” flight at the University of Virginia in 2011, but that penalty was based on ill-conceived, sketchy regulations.
Opinion: This settlement is good news for Trappy and the FAA, but should stand as a warning for RC flight hobbyists everywhere. Public and official perception of civilian drones and the RC hobby in general is important. Since the start of the Pirker case, the FAA has been willing to spend millions on a campaign of disinformation, attempting to portray drones as dangerous and threatening to public safety. The agency seems to be willing to spend whatever it takes to avoid losing face. If hobbyists behave responsibly and show that RC flight can be enjoyed safely the evidence will be stacked against bureaucratic bully tactics when agencies such as the FAA seek to take on hobbyists like Pirker.
Check out Dronethusiast for their interview with Trappy and for another take on the message the FAA is sending with its decision to settle with Pirker.
Photo source: TheVerge