The FAA is investigating after drone video of a close encounter with the Blue Angels appeared online earlier this week. In one shot, the six F/A-18s appear to pass within a few hundred feet of the drone as they performed an America Strong formation flight over Detroit on May 12. The video appears to be authentic and that means the drone operator could be in real trouble if the FAA catches up to him. He’s allegedly been identified by some social media pundits.

As is standard procedure when events like this take place, the airspace was closed by a TFR at the time and the drone also appears to have been well above the legal operating altitude of 400 feet, not to mention over a built-up area. The operator could face jail time and thousands of dollars in fines for the admittedly spectacular footage. The video has been vigorously criticized on drone forums and social media.


  1. If indeed someone was flying a drone that close to the Blues, that person should suffer some sort of severe consequence of that action. If not, this will force the almighty powers that be, to continue the increase in regulations for drone operation. That, in turn, will spell disaster to our freedoms and people who responsibly operate drones.

  2. Damn. All this time, I’ve been railing about the lack of protection for us chopper pilots who daily operate in the “drone zone”, other than blind faith in the drone operator’s, “Trust us.” (Did anything ever happen to the idiot who posted drone footage of an airliner on approach to KLAS, from directly above?)

    De-anonymizing drone operations is long-overdue. If I’m required to have ADS-B/out (for ATC’s benefit) drones should have it to protect MY ass.

  3. I’ve been sayin’ it for a long time: It’s the Wild West out there, and will be until this drone crowd is brought to heel. If not, it’s only a matter of time before we get “the big one.” And when that happens, it isn’t going to be pretty, I assure you.

  4. Unfortunately, rules are only effective for honest people who actually follow the rules. Adding more restrictive rules will only punish the people who use their drones in compliance with the regulations. Every state and municipality has laws making it illegal to shine laser pointers at aircraft, but there are still several cases each week of someone doing it. Even if drone manufacturers build safeguards into their drones to limit altitude or prevent flying in restricted airspace, it is relatively easy to build your own drone from scratch, thus bypassing any safeguards. As the old saying goes; you can’t fix stupid, no matter how hard you try. A better approach would be to have YouTube and Facebook immediately remove any videos of this type to deprive the poster of the notoriety he is seeking.

    • Who is talking about more restrictive rules? However, the whip WILL and should come down to support the existing rules. Taking down their videos is meaningless, a nice $10,000 fine and 3 months in jail, along with no more anonymity for drone operators will have an impact.