Battle Lines Drawn in NTSB Review of Pirker Case

Ritewing Zephyr electric flying wing
The FAA fined Raphael Pirker for flying the Ritewing Zephyr to take aerial video. (Photo: Ritewing RC)

Battle lines have formed in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) review of the $10,000 fine the FAA charged Raphael Pirker for operating a small unmanned aircraft. Six parties filed “friend of the court” amicus briefs by the NTSB’s May 16 deadline, including a coalition of major news media organizations supporting Pirker’s position.

Last June, the FAA fined Pirker, known as “Trappy” in the radio-controlled, “first-person view” world of aerial videographers, for allegedly recklessly flying a Ritewing Zephyr power glider at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., on October 17, 2011. A marketing company had hired him to supply aerial photographs and video of the UVA campus and medical center. Already known for flying a Zephyr around the Statue of Liberty, Pirker sought to have the civil penalty dismissed.

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