Dad Tased After Flying Drone at Park

Travis Sanders says he didn't know flying tiny 'aircraft' was illegal
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2015 3:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – Travis Sanders expected a fun night when he took his family to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on Saturday. But things took an unexpected turn when the 35-year-old Pahoa resident was Tased by a park ranger and arrested after sending up a 3-inch quadcopter drone to take video of the Kilauea volcano, Hawaii News Now reports. "My toy has some lights on it, so I thought it would be fun to fly it up and down. No big deal, right?" he tells the station. Wrong—because unmanned aircraft (with "aircraft" legally defined as "a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air") aren't allowed in national parks, says park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane. She adds that Sanders didn't comply with the ranger's requests to stop.

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Ferracane tells the AP the ranger had to ask Sanders three times to bring down the drone and that he refused to identify himself. Sanders tells News Now there were no signs indicating drones weren't allowed (the park says the rules are on its website) and that he didn't know the guy was a ranger. "He sounded very angry, confrontational … and I didn't really want to stick around for it, so I just told him, 'I don't have ID and I'm leaving." Sanders was stun-gunned close to the edge of the caldera (it has a 500-foot drop) while his daughter screamed at the ranger. He spent the night in jail before being released on $500 bond. Some witnesses say the ranger's actions were out of line, but Ferracane says Sanders was belligerent and the ranger acted in the interest of public safety. (Read more drones stories.)

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