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Drone Pilot Fine Tests Industry Seen Reaching $89 Billion

Raphael Pirker’s model-airplane-sized drone darted around buildings, zoomed over a hospital heliport and buzzed passersby to shoot a promotional video. Those were tame moves by his standards.

The implications of that 2011 flight at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville have been less routine. It resulted in a $10,000 fine issued June 27, the first U.S. enforcement action against a drone pilot, and thrust Pirker into a debate over regulating unmanned aircraft as planes and helicopters costing less than $1,000 enter the market.