Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FAA clears helicopter pilot accused of disturbing protected birds at Shell Key

A federal investigation continues into a helicopter pilot accused of disturbing protected nesting areas of black skimmer birds at Shell Key.

But Kissimmee pilot Preston Ewen has been cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration. Ewen was hired to help film Sea-Doo watercraft promotions and ads.

Ewen, who apologized for making a mistake, committed no violations, according to FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

While Ewen admitted flying 100 feet above the barrier island, the FAA standards allow helicopters to go below the 500-foot minimum.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating whether the migratory birds — protected because nesting sites are limited — were disturbed and whether penalties such as fines or jail time is warranted.

Also, county officials say they continue to review how the incident occurred. The county can't regulate airspace, though pets and alcohol are banned at Shell Key. Crews had the standard free permits to film, and received a warning about the protected nesting grounds.

However, some members of the county's advisory Environmental Science Forum said Thursday that better communication is needed with the county film office, and urged the county to better monitor what's allowed in preserves.

David DeCamp can be reached at or (727) 893-8779.

FAA clears helicopter pilot accused of disturbing protected birds at Shell Key 07/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  2. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  3. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  4. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.
  5. Baghdad orders Kurdistan region to hand over borders, ports


    BAGHDAD — Iraq's central government in Baghdad ordered the country's Kurdish region to hand over all border crossings and airports to federal government control late Sunday night, hours before the region is set to carry out a controversial referendum on support for independence.

    Iraqi Kurds climb the fence into a soccer stadium during a rally in Irbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, on Friday. Kurds will vote in a referendum today on the creation of their own country.