Coast Guard Scare: Reckless Drone Operator Pleads Guilty

In a notable case of dangerous drone operation, an Orange County resident, 62-year-old Alexander Milinovic, admitted to reckless drone conduct near multiple aircraft, including a Coast Guard helicopter. The Laguna Beach man's drone activities resulted in life-threatening situations, prompting federal legal charges against him.

Milinovic confessed to three counts of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, incidents that occurred between June 2022 and March 2023. Each dangerous instance involved him launching his drone near other airborne vessels.

The first of these incidents took place on June 19, 2022. Milinovic targeted a father and son piloting an open-cockpit gyrocopter off Crescent Bay Beach in Laguna Beach. Reportedly, he flew his drone within 10 to 20 feet of the gyrocopter, compelling the son at the controls to make an emergency course change to avoid collision and a potential crash into the Pacific Ocean.

The following incident occurred over a month later on July 26, 2022. In a risky maneuver, Milinovic directed his drone towards a Discovery Channel “Shark Week” blimp flying at an altitude of 500 to 1,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean near Laguna Beach. The blimp's pilot identified the drone as a direct threat, causing him to navigate a life-threatening emergency crash landing.

The final incident, which took place on March 19, 2023, brought the Coast Guard into the picture. A four-member flight crew was operating a rescue helicopter around 200 to 300 feet above sea level in Laguna Beach when Milinovic launched his drone. The unmanned aircraft posed a clear danger as it flew within 200 feet of the helicopter, prompting the crew to swerve the helicopter away from the drone to avoid a crash.

Milinovic's dangerous activities were brought to law enforcement's attention in November 2022 when videos surfaced on TikTok, showing his drone flying perilously close to aircraft.

Now facing the consequences of his reckless actions, Milinovic awaits a sentencing hearing scheduled for November 28, under United States District Judge Fred W. Slaughter. He faces up to one year in federal prison for each count.

The case is a cooperative investigation by the FBI and the Orange County Sheriff's Department as part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the United States Coast Guard. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer L. Waier of the Santa Ana Branch Office is leading the prosecution.

It is unknown which type of drone(s) has been involved in these incidents.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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