The coolest video of this Fourth of July weekend also happens to be illegal, thanks to federal regulations that limit the use of small aircraft.
Jos Stiglingh's drone-shot video of a fireworks show captured millions of views as awed watchers took in the up-close-and-personal look of the colorful explosions. Sparks and smoke whizzed by the camera, attached to a small, four-rotor drone.
But this post-vacation Monday's back-to-reality moment includes a reminder that drone pilots face strict limits on how they operate their aircraft.
While it's unclear how high Stiglingh's drone flew, the FAA limits the aircraft to below 400 feet.
Joe Rozzi, vice president of Ohio-based Rozzi Fireworks, said he had seen the video and estimated a show of that nature has shells exploding about 500 feet in the air (at times, the drone appeared to be above the level of those explosions). "I'm surprised the drone didn't get taken out of the sky," he said. "I thought it was neat."
However, Congress has carved out some exemptions to the FAA's ability to regulate "model aircraft" weighing less than 55 pounds. This only applies to recreational flights, and it's unclear if Stiglingh's flight meets this criteria. But the 400-foot ceiling isn't the only regulation pilots have to worry about.