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Las Cruces woman recovers real estate agent's drone

By James Staley, Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 15--LAS CRUCES -- As the buzzing drone descended into her back yard, Myrna Enslin was concerned.

"I yelled at my son," Enslin said. "I said, 'There's this drone in the back yard and I'm not going out there.'"

Enslin called the Sun-News on Friday to report finding the drone in response to an article that published in the print edition that morning.

Eli Berger, a local real estate agent, lost the drone -- a small, remote-controlled aircraft with a camera -- Tuesday evening during an apparent malfunction. He was flying it around his office's parking lot, about a mile from Enslin's north Las Cruces home, when the drone flew away.

Berger was showing it to an insurance salesman, hoping to take out a policy because he plans to use it for work and it cost nearly $1,500.

"I'm so happy," said Berger, preparing to pick up the drone Friday at the Las Cruces Police Department because Enslin dropped it off there.

Enslin eventually warmed up to the drone, showing it to neighbors in the past couple days. She was unsure what to do with it because, until Friday, Berger's contact information was not on it.

"It's a beautiful machine," she said. "I'm glad to get it back to its owner. Seems like it'd be a lot of fun."

Federal regulators, however, aren't so enthusiastic about drones.

Federal Aviation Administration rules prohibit using drones for commercial purposes, including real estate photography.

FAA officials had to clarify that position in June because flying small drones recreationally is allowed. Many real estate agents, such as Berger, have used drones to capture aerial photos of properties they're selling. Berger said the unique perspective of the photos, taken about 100 feet above the homes, give him a competitive edge.

In 2011 the FAA levied a $10,000 fine against a man hired by the University of Virginia to take aerial photos of the campus with a drone, according to the latest issue of Texas Realtor Magazine.

Recently a federal judge threw out the fine, saying it was unenforceable. The FAA has appealed.

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The National Association of Realtors advises agents not to use drones for aerial photography till the issue is settled, according to USA Today.

Berger said he has consulted an attorney on the matter.

James Staley can be reached at 575-541-5476

___

(c)2014 Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)

Visit the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.) at www.lcsun-news.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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