A California man is facing a fine to the tune of nearly $20,000, after his drone landed near a runway at Las Vegas’ main airport. He claims he was just trying to take a picture, when his DJI Phantom 3 “started acting all weird” and took off of its own accord.
Reuben Burciaga was flying his drone over the Las Vegas strip in June 2018, trying to photograph the High Roller Observation Wheel, according to FOX station KVVU. Beginning at Caesars Palace, Burciaga said it wasn’t long before the drone lost its GPS connection and took on a flight path of its own. He claims to have undertaken several hundred drone flights before with no issue. After drifting for two miles, it landed by the runway at McCarran International Airport.
Footage from the drone’s flight has now been released in KVVU’s news report. Found by airport workers, the drone was passed to the FAA, who later identified Burciaga as the pilot through its registration number.
In April of this year, the FAA returned the drone, accompanied by a $14,700 fine. Now, late fees have been accrued due to a failure to respond to the FAA’s letters and has seen that number increase to almost $20,000. KVVU reports that although Burciaga accepts responsibility for the incident, he feels a fine of $1,000 - $3,000 would have been more appropriate.
The US Treasury Department is taking charge of the money owed and will “pay” the fine out of any money owed to Burciaga by the government, including his income tax returns.