Feds Target YouTuber For Using Drone

A Philadelphia drone pilot named Michael DiCiurcio is the target of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lawsuit seeking to cease his risky flying practices. He has accumulated fines totaling over $200,000.

The police said DiCiurcio had been seen on camera flying drones to the tops of 1,100-foot buildings, harassing birds, and crashing his craft.

After the FAA and the inspector general of the Transportation Department issued repeated warnings that were ignored, authorities decided to take legal action to have DiCiurcio pay the fine and rectify his behavior.

He often flies his drone, gliding over the urban canyons of Philadelphia and sometimes buzzing the roughly 600-foot-tall William Penn monument atop City Hall.

According to research conducted by attorney Jonathan Rupprecht of Florida, the FAA’s proposed fines against DiCiurcio are substantial in comparison to previous measures. The previous high was $1.9 million levied in 2015 against SkyPan, a drone photography firm in Chicago, which settled for $200,000. In fiscal year 2023, the FAA brought thirteen civil penalty actions against individuals using drones.

The consensus on drone discussion boards is that Mr. DiCiurcio’s demeanor disgraced the drone community and provoked the anger of the FAA. According to other drone enthusiasts, the FAA threatened rule enforcement via litigation. However, according to court filings, FAA officials emphasized that they only went to court after Mr. DiCiurcio rejected their negotiations.

Many people in the Philadelphia region consider Mr. DiCiurcio to be an annoyance.

On “The F—- the FAA Show Live” in 2022, he allegedly threatened to fly his drone into a building. In previous recordings, he said that “the FAA is scared of me.”

The FAA claims he owes $182,004 in penalties but denies the charge and claims he is poor. As several members of the drone community pointed out, Mr. DiCiurcio has sufficient wealth to purchase a fleet of drones.

Some actions of a few drone operators have resulted in criminal charges. After he flew his drone dangerously close to manned aircraft three times in his pursuit of stunning footage, a 62-year-old man from California was given a year of probation and 120 hours of community service in November.