By Gary Klien Marin Independent Journal
Two Marin County men were cited by federal authorities over a drone helicopter buzzing around Alcatraz Island, the National Park Service reported.
The operator of the remote-controlled helicopter, which is equipped with high-definition cameras, was Devin Hedrick, an aerial photographer who lives in Greenbrae. Hedrick’s service, Hover Effect LLC, offers airborne video and still photography for real estate listings, music videos and television shows.
On Tuesday, working from a boat on the bay, Hedrick was operating the electric helicopter for a client, Bruce Paquett of Sausalito, whose project involves images of Alcatraz. According to park service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet, the helicopter, which has a rotor span of about 6 feet, was flying low around the island, frightening the birds and swooping over the tourists’ ferry dock.
The U.S. Coast Guard, carrying a National Park Service ranger, approached their boat and confiscated the video. After watching it, the park service issued citations to both Hedrick and Paquett.
“Their own footage showed us what they were doing, which was scaring the shorebirds from their nests and getting too close to the people on the dock,” Picavet said.
Hedrick was cited on suspicion of disturbing wildlife, operating aircraft within 500 feet of a boat dock, creating hazardous conditions and operating an aircraft within the Federal Aviation Administration-imposed closure of 2,000 feet above the island.