I was prosecuted for a drone flight by the National Park Service via YouTube.

Blog entry regarding the incident – http://blog.duf.net/2016/03/12/the-criminalization-of-drone-hobbyists-by-the-national-park-service-shakedown-by-proxy/

I tell the story about how a call from the NPS on Christmas Eve regarding a 90 second YouTube video lead to almost a $1000 citation. Although I had no prior knowledge of the national park drone ban when I flew my drone I do understand why it was enacted after reading up on some of the dangerous/stupid actions a small handful of other drone pilots performed in Yellowstone Park.

What I struggle to understand is why the national park service decided after the fact prosecution via YouTube was a good utilization of taxpayer funds and NPS resources. I also wonder why no subjective/situational judgement seems to be utilized in a incident like this. Finally, I really don’t understand why it was necessary to make the initial contact with me on Christmas Eve, something most would realize was unnecessary and inappropriate.

Listen to my story and feel free to add your feedback below. I strongly advocate drone pilots adhere to any regulations/restrictions to flights where applicable.

Blog entry regarding the incident – http://blog.duf.net/2016/03/12/the-criminalization-of-drone-hobbyists-by-the-national-park-service-shakedown-by-proxy/

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50 Comments

  1. comcastjohn on August 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

    You hoped the federal government came to their senses???? 🤣😂🤣
    I am brand spanking new to drone flying, a week old. I bought a Mavic 2 Pro an fly longer bag. I researched for two days before I flew, the rules and such. I have only been practicing in my yard here in Ga. The government says ignorance is no excuse but when they arrest or prosecute and you prove them wrong about a law, they can say oh we didn’t know but you can’t do anything about it. WTF? I got the “before you fly” app, if you don’t know about it, it shows the airspace around the country and has restricted, controlled and free airspace zones. Hope this helps bud and sorry that happened to you. When I was a Deputy for 15 years here, I would give warnings at times depending on how the person interacted with me. Most of the time they talked themselves into the ticket. But I tried.

  2. Jeff Carse on August 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

    This is an example of why restrictions are getting tighter and tighter. Rando people getting drones and not learning the laws or doing stupid shit.
    These are not kids toys, be an adult and read up.

  3. Cru Jones on August 25, 2020 at 9:46 am

    That sounds like a damn shake down i’m surprised they didn’t want you to pay them in Amazon gift cards? My cousin got a pissing in public ticket two decades ago in a state he didn’t live in and they’re still trying to collect their $200. I just wouldn’t of answered the phone and wouldn’t of gone back to Wyoming ever.

  4. Anthony Dark on August 25, 2020 at 9:49 am

    The short part of the story, get an attorney.

  5. Joey S on August 25, 2020 at 9:54 am

    He has no,proof it was you

  6. Michael Hartman on August 25, 2020 at 9:56 am

    This is really just stupid. There’s a lot of reform that needs to happen in this country.

  7. Joey S on August 25, 2020 at 9:58 am

    If there’s no warning signs you are innocent

  8. Jose Espinosa on August 25, 2020 at 9:58 am

    You incriminated yourself. Shouldn’t have said nothing.

  9. Vern Maas on August 25, 2020 at 10:00 am

    You should of not been flying

  10. Edward Rose on August 25, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Really. If you are flying a drone and it is not property you own then you need permission to fly. DUH

  11. Henry Buss on August 25, 2020 at 10:00 am

    what’s worse is that it happens right before Christmas.

  12. John Cooksey on August 25, 2020 at 10:00 am

    If you didn’t plead guilty, you can haggle the $1000 fine with prosecutor down to at least half, If you get a call, offer no information, just say "sorry I can’t help you". WIthout your self incrimination, they would not have a case.

  13. BLAIDRUNNA on August 25, 2020 at 10:02 am

    Why on earth with someone want to take beautiful pictures of a park? I’m boycotting Federal parks, because of this.

  14. Wonder on August 25, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Thank you for the information. Drone pilots face allot of issues. Legal, paranoia, and financial (drones are expensive). In this case it seems to be a mixed issue: I can understand the efforts to protect the public, Wild life, chemical balance of nature. To me it seems this was similar to speeding tickets . The agency was just using the law to produce revenue. Terrible incident. I’m glad you approached the situation calmly and as a law abiding citizen.

  15. Tyler Johnson on August 25, 2020 at 10:04 am

    I feel like you are making excuses despite doing the wrong thing. It is your responsibility to know the rules – especially if you already know that drones are highly regulated in the first place! A drone that size would have had to be registered before you were ever allowed to fly it, thereby making you responsible for all your actions by already having the opportunity to agree to, and been advised of, all information regarding drones. Restrictions are easy to find – a simple Google search would have been the common-sense thing to do. And all forms of evidence, including Youtube, can be used against you. It is the law – get familiar with all of them!

  16. CaptSpicyWeiner on August 25, 2020 at 10:05 am

    That ranger was a fucking douchebag!

  17. Google User1 on August 25, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for this video warning us of all the stipulations involving drones.

  18. Robert Kerr on August 25, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Hi Duf Bob from Fife Scotland. I feel you were treated very badly In the Nat park rules after 2014 states that you should have been given a paper stating no drone flying however you can fly a model aircraft when a nat park officer s view was asked why reason given drones have cameras where m,a, don’t wonder what the judge would have said also you perhaps should have claimed that the drone was launched outside park ground ?
    regards
    bob

  19. Joey S on August 25, 2020 at 10:07 am

    I guess thats how they make crime out of innocent people

  20. R G on August 25, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Unreal. ExxonMobil could dump 800,000 gallons of crude in Yellowstone and the fine would be less.

  21. captain obvious on August 25, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Kicker: to my understanding, you cannont take off or land in a national park. You may fly over a park but not in a disruptive manner, i.e. harassing animals.

  22. Erwin Rommel on August 25, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Just a new source of revenue for the federal park’s. It’s a bunch of shit. O yea a guiser is getting hurt. O boy. Yea just doing there job on the holiday. Judge needed money for the holiday.

  23. Verlorener Junge on August 25, 2020 at 10:12 am

    I hate ignorant pilots so much. I hate them! They have ruined everything. Thanks to those ignorant idiots who ignore the rules and laws, it’s now forbidden to fly a drone on every nice spot on earth.

  24. Ryan FitzAlan on August 25, 2020 at 10:13 am

    im not sure about how well this works with federal authorities, But the mistake in dates, times and locations of the offense would be where the citation would be dropped. its no different then any other ticket in that way. if you plead not guilty and spoke to that, even without a lawyer, im pretty sure the judge would drop it. thats why policing from the internet isnt legaly possible. in this case im sure the park wanted to "overpolice" the new rule to get people freighted of prosecution, and if they plead guilty then the citation moves froward, same as any ticket. this sort of follows the same idea as why police cant write speeding tickets from video or other surveillance, it cant be 100% guaranteed what happened wasn’t in error because the officer isnt present and didnt witness it. that technicality could hold up in this case as well, since they need to prove you took that footage with your drone actually there, youtube vids could be footage from anyone and anywhere, they have no witness to the occurance.

  25. thehunter7 on August 25, 2020 at 10:14 am

    So dumb. I’m sorry that happened and I’m glad you shared your story. It stinks that we can’t fly there when it’s some of the most beautiful places.

  26. funnytommyboy on August 25, 2020 at 10:18 am

    always remain silent

  27. Free Man on August 25, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Never ever ever volunteer any information to authorities. Get a lawyer and plead the 5th. You make them subpoena you if they are attempting to build a case against you. And you are right. Never answer an unfamiliar number. Especially and out of state number. Often they will get tired of trying to contact you and give up.

  28. Gsavage on August 25, 2020 at 10:20 am

    Stupid fucking law

  29. Joey S on August 25, 2020 at 10:21 am

    This is exactly why people are reluctant to talk to the law they just won’t come forward now if this was a homicide case ?

  30. Mykola on August 25, 2020 at 10:23 am

    DJI actually does not show National Parks as no fly zones because it’s not an FAA restriction.
    1. Always ask the purpose of the question of a stranger, and you don’t have to answer.
    2. Do not accommodate an officer looking to serve you.
    Just like your defense, their prosecution carries costs, and if they have to put time and effort to build a case and find you to serve the citation, they may also deem it not worthwhile.

  31. Dacia Project on August 25, 2020 at 10:24 am

    What about all the people who go missing in the National Parks? 411. David Paulides. I wouldn’t be caught dead walking in one.

  32. Cindy Zweiacher on August 25, 2020 at 10:25 am

    It’s because people who don’t use common sense. Also because of you not adhering to AMA rules you are causing excessive FAA regulations to be enforced against RC aircraft pilots. You are a problem and need to be grounded!

  33. Kris Voronin on August 25, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Lesson learned from the video is that never answer questions via phone or without a lawyer

  34. JP JR on August 25, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Kids this is why you never talk to anyone with a badge. Don’t snitch on yourself.

  35. GM4N S4M on August 25, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Best solution for not getting in trouble, keep those types of videos to yourself and don’t post them.

  36. Gustaf Paulson on August 25, 2020 at 10:28 am

    This just makes me want to blow up a government building, preferably full of liberal Democrat cocksuckers! ❄️💣🔥💀😱😎👍🏻

  37. Ghosts Inc Wayne on August 25, 2020 at 10:31 am

    People need to refuse any payments to these crooks. Then they would stop doing it. They’ll never get a penny from me. Not a snowballs change in hell.

  38. Ken Fullman on August 25, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Your biggest mistake was giving them everything they wanted. You should have let them find you. You shouldn’t be actively seeking out a citation they have for you. They shouldn’t have known who you were or where you live. Problem solved.

  39. Joey S on August 25, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Nothing happened case closed

  40. StAviation on August 25, 2020 at 10:32 am

    It is up to the remote Pic to observe all flight regulations.
    It is illegal to fly a drone in a national park.

  41. Me & My Drone on August 25, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Can’t fly from a National Park but u can fly into a National Park what dumb ass laws

  42. Tariq Hilal on August 25, 2020 at 10:36 am

    The logical solution: put no drone signs in high risk areas.
    The government solution: ban drones in all parks and stalk citizens on Facebook.

    I am sure a good lawyer would have been able to get you out of it and teach them a lesson.

  43. Kevin Mathewson on August 25, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Not commenting on or defending drone flight in national parks, but this is why you _don’t talk to cops ever_ lol. It literally can’t help you.

  44. R Line Photography on August 25, 2020 at 10:36 am

    I would have never, ever answered that phone..if a caller is not on my contact list, my phone doesnt ring..not too mention, id never admit too shit too anyone of any governmental body..

  45. Walking in all Weathers on August 25, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Dam, I am from the UK and this is so terrible. No Drone flying in National Parks? Crazy!
    I guess looking back your downfall was admitting quilt. Dont tell strangers or rangers anything.

  46. Kenneth PECK on August 25, 2020 at 10:37 am

    anybody wants to believe that the government is actually out to protect you have no concept of reality, the govt will financially screw you over to make you docile

  47. Sean's DIY & Reviews on August 25, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Unfortunately the law in any case is ignorance of the law is no excuse. I have heard that when it comes to drones you’re less likely to get caught flying it and more likely to get caught when you post on YouTube. Clearly you’re an example of exactly that

  48. dghhambo on August 25, 2020 at 10:40 am

    Never say anything to any type of government official

  49. Ray Parker on August 25, 2020 at 10:42 am

    The lesson here is to always check before flying!

  50. EVERSONG on August 25, 2020 at 10:42 am

    First of all, a national park is EXACTLY WHERE you would want to fly a drone. WTF are they thinking making that illegal? Secondly this is just policing for profit, pure and simple. Douchebags.

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