In a first-of-its-kind federal prosecution, a German national who crashed a drone into Yellowstone National Park's Lake Yellowstone has received one year of unsupervised probation as well as a one-year ban from the park. VPC
A Dutch man accused of crashing his remote-controlled drone into a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park has been charged with breaking multiple federal laws.
Park officials say Theodorus Van Vliet crashed a drone into the Grand Prismatic Spring on Aug. 2. Rangers at the time said he reported the crash but left the area. The drone remains submerged inside the spring. Park officials are worried leaving it there could damage the spring, as could efforts to remove it.
Grand Prismatic is known for the bright multihued algae and bacteria coloring its edges, and the deep blue color at the center of its approximately 200-foot-wide pool. Visitors aren't allowed to walk up to the water's edge, and must remain on a boardwalk set back from the shoreline.
Charges against Van Vliet, announced by park officials in a statement, are the latest brought by Yellowstone rangers against pilots accused of illegally operating in the park. The National Park Service this summer banned remote-controlled airplanes and helicopters at all of America's 401 national parks and memorials.
Park officials say a German national faces charges of violating the ban on operating unmanned aircraft, giving a false report to a government employee and commercial filming without a permit, after he was accused of crashing a drone into Yellowstone Lake on July 17.
An Oregon man is accused of flying a drone over the Midway Geyser Basin and near bison on Aug. 19. He faces charges of violating the ban.
The remote-controlled aircraft usually carry cameras aloft, allowing pilots to snap photos or record videos from vantage points inaccessible from the ground. Some of the craft, which are about the size of a pizza box, buzz loudly as their multiple propellers keep them airborne.