Pilot ID’d After Drone Hits Space Needle

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The FAA’s drone registry appears to have helped authorities in Seattle identify the owner of an aircraft that clipped the iconic Space Needle on New Year’s Eve. The drone had its camera rolling as it approached the 605-foot tower as workers prepared for a New Year’s light display on the very top of the structure. The aircraft clipped a guard rail before coming to rest what appears to be a few feet away from the workers. No one was hurt and nothing was damaged on the Space Needle but the drone owner may be facing charges.

Assuming he doesn’t have an exemption, the flight busted the FAA’s 400-foot maximum altitude by hundreds of feet and the presence of the workers means it was in violation of rules on overflying people. Seattle Police officials told local media they are considering charges of reckless endangerment against the pilot. It’s not clear whether the aircraft was being flown recreationally or for a commercial purpose. It’s also not the first time it’s happened. “It looks like the drone tractor beam we installed on the Space Needle is working,” Space Needle CEO Ron Sevart sarcastically told CNN in a statement. “This is the third time we’ve recovered a drone on our property.”