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California man cited for flying drone in eruption no-fly zone

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    The intersection of Forrest Road and Nanawale Blvd. in Nanawale Estates on Hawaii island. Huawen Wu, 38, of San Jose, Calif. was cited Tuesday for flying a drone in a restricted area.

The state has cited a California man for flying a drone in a restricted flight zone in Puna.

A state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement office issued a citation to Huawen Wu, 38, of San Jose, Calif. for flying the drone at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The officer was checking barricades in Nanawale Estates when he spotted a red light in the sky. A short time later, he encountered Wu flying a drone from Forest Road near Nanawale Boulevard in a restricted flight zone near the Lava Tree State Monument.

DLNR said the case is also being referred to the Federal Aviation Administration.

At the request of Hawaii County, the FAA placed a temporary flight restriction over a five-nautical-mile radius of Leilani Estates on May 8, DLNR said. The county is in the process of requesting an expansion of the flight restriction due to continued volcanic activity in the area.

Unpermitted drones are not allowed because they can interfere with emergency aircraft operations. The FAA had previously warned drone operators that flying in the restricted zone could result in large fines.

DLNR said only the U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaii Electric Light and the University of Hawaii at Hilo are permitted to operate drones for the purposes of hazard evaluation.

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