Chilean tourist flies drone in firefighting helicopters’ path, gets convicted

WELLINGTON – Helicopters fighting a fire near Wanaka, a resort town on New Zealand’s South Island, had to land when a Chilean tourist flew a drone too close.

Jorge Raquelme-Cruz, 33, was trying to get photos of a scrub fire near Mount Alpha on January 3 – but his drone in the sky temporarily stopped seven helicopters from tackling blaze, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Raquelme-Cruz appeared in Hamilton District Court Friday afternoon asking for a discharge without conviction for operating the drone, which caused unnecessary danger to helicopter pilots.

Judge Kim Saunders said a discharge didn’t reflect the seriousness of the situation and agreed with police that a conviction was needed to denounce and deter this kind of behavior.

Judge Saunders ordered his $1,700 drone be forfeited.