He Flew a Drone to Take Photos for a Friend. Now He’s Facing $55K in Government Fines.
Mical Caterina is addicted.
When the Minnesota man turned 56, he headed to Brainerd International Raceway and raced his Mini Cooper on its road course. With GoPro cameras fastened to the front and back bumpers of his car, he created a video and posted it to YouTube.
That got the attention of GoPro, which invited him to a seminar where he was given a drone, a Phantom manufactured by the Chinese company DJI.
Caterina was instantly hooked.
“I love to fly this thing,” he told The Daily Signal, referring to his drone. “It comes with some bumps and bruises. My first one was [like a] weed wacker in my backyard. But I got it down to an art. I know how to operate it safely.”
Caterina’s interest in aerial photography started in August 2012, and he currently uses two DJI drones. An audio engineer by day, he’s since attracted the attention of local real estate agents and event organizers looking to hire him to take aerial photos using his drone.
A resident of Eden Prairie, Caterina has turned down many offers, insisting he master the skill before charging people for his work.
But what Caterina has considered a hobby—and an “addictive” one at that—has landed him in trouble with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has levied $55,000 in fines against him for violating five aviation regulations, all of which he disputes.