Federal Aviation Administration officials are reviewing two YouTube videos captured by a camera-equipped drone over Lollapalooza this past weekend.
The videos, posted to YouTube on Monday by user Alfredo Roman, show aerial shots of the three-day music festival in Grant Park. One video appears to be footage from Saturday just before dusk, and the other is daytime footage captured Friday and Sunday of the fest, according to the description with the video.
Elizabeth Cory, an FAA spokeswoman based in the Chicago area, said the agency is reviewing the videos after RedEye inquired about regulations for use of such drones. She said it is too soon to say whether any action will be taken after the review.
Flying over a crowd of people—as it appears the aircraft does in the video—could be considered "careless and reckless operation," which could violate FAA guidelines, agency spokesman Les Dorr said, adding: "You’re not supposed to fly over a crowd of people," he said.
According to FAA guidelines, unmanned aircraft operators do not need FAA clearance to fly a drone or model aircraft if the intent is purely for hobby or recreation. A clearance is needed for commercial purposes.
Reached Thursday by phone, Roman said he shoots the videos for fun at the concerts in the park and doesn't believe he put anyone in danger getting the footage, explaining that the aircraft—which is about 14 inches long according to the DJI website—was about 230 feet in the air.
While the flight height meets FAA standards—the highest the aircraft is allowed to go is 400 feet—sending it over a crowded park may be in question. Federal aviation guidelines call for “selecting an operating site that is of sufficient distance from populated areas." Those areas include "parks, schools, hospitals, churches, etc."
Roman said the remote-controlled DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter drone includes several safety features, including an automated system for sending the aircraft back to the operator if the power or signal is lost.
"I don't want to bring any negativity. There are people that [have been flying drones] for many, many years," he said.
Roman said after seeing how much attention the video has gotten, as well as hearing of the FAA review, he is considering taking the videos down.
"I wasn't doing it to get any attention. Whenever I make my videos I share them with my family and friends," he said.
The video did garner attention, however. Several people tweeted saying they saw the drone during the festival, and EDM artist Skrillex even mentioned a "UFO" while playing his set Sunday.
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Shout out to the one guy in VIP that knew who Outkast was, and the drone that flew over the crowd during their set. #lolla— jason. (@koolerthan) August 3, 2014