Operator Cited for Use of Drone in No-Fly Zone

A 38-year-old San Jose, CA man was cited by a Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officer two nights ago for loitering under Hawai‘i County code.

The DOCARE officer was checking barricades in Nanawale Estates when he spotted a red light in the sky.  A short time later he encountered Huawen Wu flying a drone in a restricted flight zone.  DOCARE reports the man was on Nanawale Blvd., and then took Forest Road where he allegedly set up his drone at about 9:30 p.m. to get aerial photography of an active lava flow.

The case is also being referred to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for follow-up.  At the request of Hawai‘i County the FAA placed a temporary flight restriction (TFR) over a five mile radius of Leilani Estates on May 8.  The county is in the process of requesting an expansion of the TFR based on continued volcanic activity in the area. Unpermitted drones can interfere with emergency aircraft operations.

During the East Rift Zone Eruption only the U.S. Geological Survey,  Hawai’i Electric Light and the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo are permitted to operate drones for the purposes of hazard evaluation.

Image from video of a UH thermal drone deployed Wednesday night over the lava flow that crossed Highway 132.

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