Balloon Fiesta

Balloon Fiesta unveils official event drone, bans all others

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) - Drones have become a very popular hobby and a great way to take pictures and video. That's what Balloon Fiesta officials are worried about, so Friday they showed off their weapon against a drone intrusion.    

Officials announced a "DJL" drone would be the first ever authorized to fly at the International Balloon Fiesta.

Balloon Fiesta officials are going to great lengths to make sure it's the only one in the air.

"They are increasingly concerned that someone who doesn't have malicious intent - just wants to take a good picture - will lose control into a crowd of 100,000 people, will lose control into a balloon while its propellors are spinning," DJL spokesperson Adam Lisberg said.

So, if someone tries to snap that perfect picture from the sky, law enforcement is going to know about it.

"The FAA has set up a temporary flight restriction that extends four miles around here," Lisberg said.

Pilots on Friday sent unauthorized drones into the sky above Balloon Fiesta's launch field for a demonstration.

Aerial Armor, a drone detection company, set up a system using a tower on the field to capture the signal between a drone and its controller as soon as it's turned on.

That can pinpoint a drone as far as 11 miles away and see where it's headed.

"They can look at the screen here, click on it and they'll see exactly where the drone is, and just as importantly, they'll see the location of the pilot," Lisberg said.

Then, the monitors watching these screens will give that information to the FBI and police.

People will be able to see the footage captured by the official drone as it happens through a live stream that can be found on the Balloon Fiesta website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Balloon Fiesta officials said the FBI questioned at least two people for flying drones illegally at last year's event.

Flying a drone illegally can carry up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.


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