That little camera-equippped drone that hovered over the June 21 wedding of Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney to longtime partner Randy Florke isn’t being forgotten.
Republican challenger Nan Hayworth is calling today for Maloney to step down from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee because the Federal Aviation Administration, which the committee oversees, is investigating the matter.
Earlier this week Hayworth only asked for Maloney to resign from the subcommittee with FAA jurisdiction and not the full committee.
According to the FAA, the agency “is looking into a report that unmanned aircraft overflew a wedding in Cold Spring, N.Y, in June to determine if there was any violation of federal regulations or airspace restrictions.”
Commercial use of unmanned aircraft is authorized “on a case-by-case basis,” the FAA said. “While flying model aircraft for a hobby or recreation does not necessarily require FAA approval, all model aircraft operators must operate according to the law,” the agency said. “The FAA promotes voluntary compliance.”
The FAA said its enforcement tools include “warning notices, letters of correction, and civil penalties.” In response,
Maloney’s spokeswoman Stephanie Formas said the couple were focused on their marriage ceremony on their wedding day, ” not their wedding photographer’s camera mounted on his remote control helicopter.”
Maloney’s spokeswoman said Hayworth lost the 2012 election because voters were “were tired of these political games and sent Sean to get results on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.”
The video at the center of the dispute ( http://youtu.be/ajkxExd_nTI ) was produced by New Jersey-based Propellerheads Aerial Photography, which had a drone shoot the wedding scene outside Church of St. Mary-in-the-Highlands, a historic Episcopal church in Cold Spring, with the scenic Hudson River in the distance. The video concluded with a nighttime fireworks display during the reception.
By the end of November, the FAA is expected to propose rules governing the commercial use of drones weighing less than 55 pounds.
Raphael Pirker was fined $10,000 by the FAA for flying a drone with a camera around the University of Virginia in 2011 to collect video of the campus for Lewis Communications. But Administrative Law Judge Patrick Geraghty ruled in March there was “no enforceable FAA rule” applying to model aircraft.
In June the FAA issued guidance to model aircraft and drone operators on the “do’s and don’ts” of flying safely in accordance with federal law.