LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Flying drones on the Strip requires Federal Aviation Administration approval. This approval is only given to licensed, professional pilots. If you are not licensed and something goes wrong, you would be in big trouble.
That happened to one tourist from California. Reuben Burciaga’s drone drifted away while he was trying to photograph the High Roller at the Linq.
”I went up to the parking structure at Caesars Palace and had no problem with GPS," Burciaga said. "It started acting weird and just took off.”
Burciaga’s drone flew more than two miles at an altitude just above 450 feet. It landed just feet away from an active runway at McCarran International Airport.
McCarran workers found the drone and it was handed over to Las Vegas police. The FAA then launched an investigation.
They traced the drone back to Burciaga using the registration number on the drone. The FAA fined Burciaga almost $15,000.
"This was really a very serious incident, which is why we imposed such a large fine," FAA Spokesperson Ian Gregor said of the incident. "In this situation, the pilot committed a litany of serious violations and really flew the drone carelessly and recklessly.”
Because the fine went unpaid, Burciaga now owes close to $20,000.
The FAA says Burciaga ignored multiple letters about the fine and has missed his chance to appeal.
The $20,000 fine has now been turned over to the U.S. Treasury Department where they will effort collecting money through Burciaga’s income tax returns.
Burciaga says he’s stuck with the fine.
"I don’t have the money to fight it, and I wouldn’t even have an idea how to fight it," Burciaga said. "That’s half of my year’s paycheck for trying to take a picture.”