A video shot from inside Reunion Tower on Friday shows a drone buzzing around downtown Dallas in apparent violation of federal rules.
The Federal Aviation Administration said no drones should fly there – at any altitude – because it is in the flight path of Dallas Love Field.
The video was shot about noon by an NBC 5 staffer who was visiting the tower. It was not clear who was controlling the aircraft.
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Pilots report seeing drones at Love Field and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on average of once a week, said FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford.
The agency is finalizing plans to register drones by the end of the year. Nearly a million unmanned planes are expected to be sold as Christmas gifts.
Romeo Espana, co-founder of the North Texas Drone Users Group, reviewed the video and said the drone appears to be one sold over-the-shelf for about $800.
"Someone is either being ignorant and doesn't understand the rules or someone is being reckless," he said. "They know what they are doing is wrong and they are proceeding anyways."
Espana, an engineer who works on unmanned robotics for the Dallas technology company Dialexa, said he and many other hobbyists and industry groups support common-sense regulations – as long as they don't go too far.
For example, he asks, what is a drone? Some kids' toys might qualify under a strict definition, but they can only fly a few feet in the air, Espana said.
"If everything this size gets branded as a drone, nobody is going to listen," he said. "You buy one of these drones in a box and you fill it with your dreams. The drone is just a bus. You fill it with what you want. The problem is people sometimes get a little carried away."