• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French teen fined for stunning drone flight film

Joshua Melvin · 21 May 2014, 09:55

Published: 21 May 2014 09:55 GMT+02:00

A French teenager won’t have to go to jail for an unauthorized drone flight he made over an historic French city, but it’s still going to cost him.

A judge decided this week that €400 was a fair penalty for 18-year-old Nans Thomas after he pleaded guilty to charges of endangering the lives of others and failure to comply with French aviation law for sending a drone into the skies above Nancy in January.

“I feel like I have been treated like a criminal. I’ve also been overwhelmed by the media attention, but I’ve stayed humble with the help of my family,” Thomas told AFP. He says he's thinking about “moving to Spain or Portugal where the legislation around flying drones is less strict.”

The case was France’s first-ever prosecution of this type, which drew worldwide attention, and prompted both large-scale support and harsh criticism of Thomas online.

The trouble started in January when he filmed “Nancy seen from the air” (Nancy vu du ciel) a stunning short film that quickly racked up some 400,000 views online in a matter of days.

The beautiful images of intricate facades, church spires and the renowned public plaza of the historic north-eastern French town were filmed by attaching a GoPro camera to his drone.

But it was the film’s success that was ultimately Thomas’s undoing. French civil aviation authorities caught wind of it and ordered an investigation that prompted Nancy’s top prosecutor to file charges on two counts.

First, drone operators in France have to complete a training course similar to the ones pilots must take. Then, a drone flight over an urban area requires specific written approval. But Thomas had neither the approval, nor had he done the course.

“I had no idea you needed permission (to fly it),” Thomas told French paper Est Republican. “Nobody gave me any indication that I needed any special permission when I bought it on the internet.”  

Prosecutors were not impressed by Thomas's project.

“If the aircraft crashed in a densely populated area, the consequences can be tragic,” prosecutors told Est Republican previously. “The use of drones also raises the question of respect of people’s privacy.”

Here is the video. It may be have been shot illegally, but the views are certainly impressive.

Thomas's case does not look like being the last involving drones to end up in a French court house.

In February The Local reported how a French Foreign Legionnaire was arrested for flying a drone around the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France imposes three-month ban on making foie gras
Photo: AFP

Foie gras producers in France are in a flap, and your next serving of the delicacy may be pricey.

French minister fumes over Euro 2016 song in English
Photo: Screengrab YouTube/SkipTheUse

The team is French, the tournament is in France, but the official song is in English. Cue anger in the government.

French are 'more tolerant' despite big rise in racist acts
A copy of a burned Koran after an Islamophobic attack in Corsica last year. Photo: AFP

French society is becoming tolerant even though there are more acts of racism, the results of an annual survey has shown.

'They are lost': Journalist infiltrates French jihadist cell
Photo: AFP

"I never saw Islam in this affair, just lost frustrated youths," says a French journalist who managed to infiltrate a cell of jihadists, planning to launch an attack in France.

Police evict 1,350 migrants from Paris camp once again
All photos: AFP

A huge group of migrants has been evicted from the Stalingrad Metro area in Paris, for the third time in three months.

Frenchwoman killed closing window shutters in storm
File photo: Julie Kertesz/Flickr

Storms claimed the life of a woman in France at the weekend, when she was killed trying to close her shutters.

French rail passengers must now pay for ticket changes
Photo: AFP

From now on passengers on French trains will have to pay for last-minute changes to their tickets.

How things change in France from May 2016
Photo: AFP

The beginning of the month of May brings with it more changes to everyday life in France.

Frenchman sues firm for being 'bored out' of his job
Photo: Tahir Hashmi/Flickr

You've heard of a burnout. This guy says he lost his job because of "bore out". A first in France.

May Day march in Paris descends into violent clashes
May Day protests in Paris end in violence once again. Photo: AFP

There was yet more violence between police and protesters in Paris on Sunday as the annual May Day labour protests turned ugly.

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
National
Who exactly are the masked rioters causing havoc across France?
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
French rail passengers must now pay to change their tickets
Travel
Here are nine must-see landmarks in Paris you may have missed
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Society
Paris makes love-lock bridge even more love-lock proof
Lifestyle
Parisians paying dearly for their bad 'parking'
Society
What's on in France: Ten great things to do in May
Society
Protesters clash with police over France's new labour laws
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
French dangerously 'unprepared' for future natural disasters
Is it really safe to come to France for Euro 2016?
National
Salah Abdeslam: Pot-smoking 'little moron' is finally back in Paris
Rail strike: Passengers in France face major disruption
Cats in a cafe?!? Nine of the quirkiest things you can see in Paris
National
VIDEO: The moment a Paris suicide bomber blew himself up
National
Why there's another rail strike in France and why there will be more
National
Winter is coming (back). Why is France so cold right now?
National
WWI's Anzac Day heroes honoured in northern France service
Lifestyle
VIDEO: Did you know all these stars spoke great French?
Culture
How did the French end up with their 'crazy' numbers?
Politics
Why this man could become the next president of France
Society
VIDEO: Jewellers in southern France raided by... swarm of bees
Culture
Did you know the strange origins of these six French curse words?
Why are more and more people dying on French roads?
National
VIDEO: Mass street brawl erupts at Paris migrant camp
2,782
jobs available