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Pilot Fined for Landing in Restricted Eruption Area

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Pilot Fined for Landing in Restricted Eruption Area

Tourists dancing in restricted Holuhraun eruption area, October 2014.

Kazakhstani billionaire Goga Ashkenazi and her friends dancing at the Holuhraun eruption site in October 2014.Photo: Goga Ashkenazi/Instagram.

A helicopter pilot who landed in the Holuhraun eruption site, a restricted area, three times in September and October 2014, has been fined ISK 200,000 (USD 1,694, EUR 1,513), as reported by Vísir last week. If the fine will not be paid within four weeks, the pilot must serve a 14-day prison sentence.

On the first two occasions, in September 2014, the man, who worked at Reykjavík Helicopters at the time, flew with a geologist and a reporter to the eruption site.

In October 2014, he landed with tourists in the restricted Holuhraun area. The pilot was caught after the tourists, Kazakhstani billionaire Goga Ashkenazi and her friends, posted a video of themselves dancing with the eruption in the background on Instagram.

The pilot was convicted for having disregarded police orders. The area was closed due to safety reasons, both because of toxic gases from the eruption and the risk of a flash flood.

The man admitted to having landed at the eruption site but claimed that he had been unaware of the area being restricted. He also stated that as he was flying a helicopter, he could have evacuated the area immediately if something had happened.

The jury did not find the pilot’s explanations believable but given that the violation did not have any serious consequences and that he did not gain from it personally, the verdict was rather mild. The man is also to cover the legal costs.

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