A Federal Grand Jury in the Southern District of Ohio indicted two Cincinnati area men on federal charges involving two separate illegal drone flights at major sports league stadiums
National Football League
During a January 15, 2022, National Football League (NFL) playoff game, in the indictment, it is alleged that Dailon Dabney, 24, of Cincinnati, conducted an illegal drone flight into Paul Brown Stadium and hovered over the players and portions of the stadium crowd. Dabney allegedly recorded his flight into the stadium and posted his exploits to various social media sites, to include YouTube.
Dabney was charged with operating an unregistered drone, which is punishable by up to three years in prison; and violating a temporary flight restriction, which is punishable by up to one year in prison.
Major League Baseball
On April 12, 2022, Opening Day of the 2022 season for the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark, Travis Lenhoff allegedly flew a drone into the restricted flight area of the stadium.
The Rules and Regulations
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that drones that meet the following criteria be registered:
- All drones must be registered, except those that weigh 0.55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams) and are flown exclusively under the Exception for Recreational Flyers.
- Any drone flown for Part 107 operations, regardless of weight, must be registered.
Additionally, the FAA issues Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) in and around stadiums that seat 30,000 people or more. Flights in these areas are prohibited by law beginning one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled time of any of the following sporting events:
- Major League Baseball Game
- National Football League Game
- NCAA Division I Football Game
- NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car, and Champ Series Race
The FAA, Stadium Managers Association (SMA), and the Department of Homeland Security have provided tools, guidance, and resources for owners and operators of stadiums, communities, media, and drone operators to reduce illegal drone flights at these types of venues. A summary of the resources can be found here.