In a screen capture from a YouTube video, Jeff Wood holds his drone before it was seized.

Red Deer man apologizes for flying drone near flight path of STARS Air Ambulance

A week after having his drone seized by police, a Red Deer man has publicly apologized for the incident.

In a video posted to his YouTube account, Jeff Wood says he is sorry for flying his drone in the flight path of a STARS Air Ambulance on March 30.

Wood said he didn’t mean to put anybody in harm’s way.

“I want to apologize to the citizens of Red Deer for anybody that I may have hurt potentially with my drone,” he said in the video. “I didn’t mean to put anybody in harms way.”

In the video, he goes on to explain his side of the story and the steps he took to prevent a dangerous situation when he realized a helicopter was in the area.

He said he flew the drone downtown near City Hall and the Stantec Building for a drone shot he was working on.

“I heard the helicopter,” he described. “Right away I was like ‘oh, those are helicopter blades, this is bad. I have to get out of here.’ The first thing I do was spin my drone around, 360, a couple of times just to see if there’s a helicopter near the drone.”

Wood didn’t see the helicopter. But he immediately tried to get the drone out of the sky and return it to his position. He kept it as low in the air as he could as it returned to where he was standing downtown.

“As soon as I noticed there was a helicopter I immediately landed my drone,” said Wood. “I would never want to interrupt the STARS helicopter, cause any loss of life or hurt anybody with any of my videos.”

Wood also said he won’t fly a drone in that area again.

“Making a mistake is an opportunity to learn and that’s what I’m taking this as. This is my opportunity to get better acquainted with the drone community and better acquainted with drone law.”

STARS has said there was no passenger on the helicopter at the time of the incident.

On March 30, Red Deer RCMP issued a press release saying they had seized a drone as part of an investigation into whether the drone was in violation of the Federal Aeronautics Act. The drone was seized a day prior after police responded to reports that the drone was flown near the flight path of a STARS Air Ambulance helicopter as it made an approach to the Red Deer hospital.

The flight path in this instance is 9 km radius around the Red Deer Regional Hospital helicopter landing pad. The rule applies to drones between 250 grams and 35 kilograms.

Violation of drone flight rules could result in a fine of up to $3,000 for recreational users.

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