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Congressman Violates FAA Rules, Flies Drone at Own Wedding

By Hanssie on July 16th 2014

For some people, apparently, the rules don’t apply. Not if you oversee the commitee of the organization who makes such rules.

Last month, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney married his long time partner Randy Florke in Cold Spring, N.Y. The celebrity-filled wedding was replete with multiple extravagances, such as a fireworks show and a drone-shot wedding video. And now the congressman is under fire, on one front due to the over-the-top ostentatiousness of the event and the other, because the Federal Aviation Administration, a department that Maloney oversees on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee, has prohibited the use of commercial drones.

Image via screencap

Image via screencap

The Hudson Valley Democrat hired Propellerheads Aerial Photography, to shoot the video and paid the owner, Parker Gyokeres, making it “for commercial use.” Gyokeres, an active duty U.S. Air Force Photojournalist, tells The BlazeThis is a technological revolution. We are the only industry I know that is begging for government regulation. In lieu of formal laws governing the use of my small remote control hexacopter, commercial or not, I am operating my business safely and in full compliance with the voluntary guidance found here.”


A source for the New York Daily News ascertains that Maloney and Gyokeres discussed the “murky legality of drone use and lack of clear federal policy.”  Maloney also mentioned that he sits on the subcommittee overseeing the FAA, but according to the source, “didn’t want to discuss policy on his wedding day.

Under their hobbyist guidelines, which you can read here, the FAA allows the use of aerial drones if you’re “having fun” and “flying safely,” but prohibits it if someone is paid to do so. The laws are fuzzy at best and until the FAA can figure out how to regulate both commercial and private drone use, the rest of us will have to do as they say and not as they do, I guess.

Here’s the wedding video:

What do you think? Should drones be regulated and how should the laws distinguish between a hobbyist vs a small business drone pilot?

[Via The Blaze]


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Zach Holz

    Man, you guys REALLY hate drones (they’re not actually drones BTW, drones are autonomous)! Every time you mention them it’s like they’ve killed your mother and farted in your general direction.

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  2. Ralph Hightower

    Angry! This is just one example of how Representatives and Senators in DC think that since they write the laws, that they are above the law. They consider themselves above and privileged from those that they represent. It also happens on the state level besides the national level.

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  3. Jim Johnson

    Come on… That’s a terrible click bait headline. And also false.

    The federal courts clearly said that the FAA does not currently have the authority to regulate UAVs. This is not some politician hypocrite (not in this case at least) nor a violation of any laws or regulation.

    SLR Lounge has generally avoided this kind of hyperbolic tabloid stye before. It’s one of the reasons I always like to come here.

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    • Stan Rogers

      That ruling is in light of current statute; the point is that the committee is considering altering statute to give the FAA regulatory power.

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    • Jim Johnson

      Well, then… I guess we know which way he’ll vote on the issue.

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    My view is that they should be allowed and on how to distinguish a hobbylist vs mall business drone pilot is a job id …. its not like theFAA is going to scramble a couple of F-15s to shoot down your drone whether you are a hobbylist or for a mall business drone pilot

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  5. John Ciciora

    Good footage…

    Also off topic, but what do you think the chances are that Propellerheads licensed that song for commercial use?

    From their website: “Propellerheads is an insured, veteran-owned, New Jersey-based business…We will take your business to new heights!” Unless your business is making music, in which case we will probably just steal from you.

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  6. Jeff Lopez

    Sort of off topic… I think drones can revolutionize the way movies/films are made, however filmmakers need to be careful and not make every scene a dramatic flight shot, even in the small video, I was hoping for some normal land shots to accompany the drone shots. Still a beautiful effect, but will become quickly overused if not balanced with regular footage.

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