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Joe Pappalardo Still Fighting for Drone Photography Rights in Texas

Remember Joey Paps? He was the editor of the Dallas Observer for a bit. Now he’s writing for Popular Mechanics, Air & Space, and National Geographic. Oh, and he has a new book out, published by St. Martin’s Press (Inferno: The True Story of a B-17 Gunner’s Heroism and the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History). He lives in Corpus Christi. I know all this because I sent him a text after reading that a lawsuit he is party to scored a recent victory. Texas law penalizes reporters and photojournalists for using drones in certain circumstances. Pappalardo and the Texas Press Association and the National Press Photographers Association think that the law violates the First Amendment. Monday the suit survived a motion filed by state officials to dismiss it.

Pappalardo told me he has renewed his federal drone license in hopes that he can once again use it in Texas as a journalist. Then he had to split because he was headed to the border to watch Elon Musk’s launch of Starship. The exclusion zone from the launch site is 3 miles. He’s got a roof at a South Padre hotel that’s about 6 miles away. But he’s in touch with some locals who have offered to ferry him out to a remote sand berm that’s about 4.5 miles from the launch pad.

Bottom line, I guess: Pappalardo is keeping himself busy.

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