Exclusive: Only one drone pilot has ever been busted for flying without a license—he got a warning

In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration shook up the drone industry by requiring that drone pilots obtain a license if they want to operate commercially.

After years of preparation and debate leading up to the licensing rules, it doesn’t seem that the FAA is aggressively using them to crack down on commercial pilots operating illegally. So far, the FAA has caught and punished only one drone pilot for operating a drone business without a license, according to documents obtained by MarketWatch through the Freedom of Information Act.

The punishment? A warning notice.


Less than a week after the rules went into effect, Jeffrey Slentz wanted some overhead shots of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., for a rap-music video. Before the Kansas City Royals played a game, Slentz flew his DJI Phantom 3 over the stadium.

Police followed the drone to Slentz as he landed it, and the officer was “pretty upset.”

“He was looking

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