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New York congressman uses drone to film his wedding despite FAA ban

A New York congressman who sits on the House committee that oversees the Federal Aviation Administration commissioned a video of his wedding last month using a drone even though the FAA bans drone flights for commercial purposes.

Stephanie Formas, a spokeswoman for Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, acknowledged the congressman hired a photographer to produce a photo package of his wedding last month that included a video created using a camera mounted on a small drone. Maloney is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's aviation subcommittee.

The FAA has been sending letters to commercial drone operators across the country -- including other videographers and companies that hire videographers -- to cease their flights or face fines. But the commercial use of drones doesn't appear to be abating. One videographer, Raphael  Pirker, challenged the $10,000 fine the FAA tried to level against him for flying is small drone in an allegedly reckless manner near the University of Virginia.

An administrative law judge sided with Pirker, whose attorney argued the agency can't ban commercial drone flights when it hasn't formally adopted safety rules governing drone flights. The FAA has appealed the case to the five-member National Transportation Safety Board. A decision is expected this fall.

"This is an extremely gray area," Formas said.

Members of Congress have been pressing the FAA to move more quickly to integrate commercial drone flights into the national airspace. But FAA officials, who have expressed concern about the safety of drones, have allowed only a very few commercial operations on a case-by-case basis.

The wedding photographer subcontracted Parker Gyokeres of Propellerheads Aerial Photography of Trenton, N.J. to shoot the video. Gyokeress posted outtakes of the wedding on his company's website and created a YouTube video.

FAA spokeswoman Kristie Greco said she had no immediate comment.

Maloney's wedding video was first reported by the New York Daily News.