French Teen's Drone Flight Lands Him In Court

A French teen who used a drone to capture footage of his town from above has landed himself in court.

According to local reports, 18-year-old Nans Thomas, of the northeastern city of Nancy, faces the criminal charge of "endangering the lives of others" for the illegal operation of a drone. As TV channel TF1 notes, the case is a first for France.

Thomas posted the video, "Nancy seen from the sky," on Vimeo in late January. (The footage has since been taken down, but a copy remains on YouTube.) After the drone flight was widely shared on social media, the teen found himself in the midst of a court case.

It all started when Thomas reportedly received a warning letter from civil aviation authorities in France. The correspondence stressed that drone operators are required to complete a training course to fly a unmanned aerial vehicle in the country. For flights in urban areas, operators must also receive written approval, LOR'Actu notes.

Then, on Monday, local police contacted the 18-year-old and brought him in for questioning. Prosecutors had already prepared a case against the teen, slapping him with a court summons for the endangerment charge this week.

"I did not know you needed permission," Thomas said of his drone flight, as quoted by French newspaper Est Republican. "No one gave me any indication that I needed permission when I bought the drone on the Internet."

However, the prosecutor's office does not see Thomas' naivety as an excuse.

"Obviously, he is not aware of what he did, but the use of drones is very regulated, just as all aircraft that circulates in airspace is," local prosecutor Thomas Pison told the Agence France-Presse. See the drone flight video that has the French teen facing charges below.

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