Man Arrested After Piloting Drone over NFL Stadiums

Man Arrested After Piloting Drone over NFL Stadiums

A California man was arrested Sunday after he allegedly piloted a drone over two NFL stadiums in an attempt to distribute “anti-media” pamphlets to the crowds below.

A California man was arrested Sunday after he allegedly piloted a drone over two NFL stadiums in an attempt to distribute “anti-media” pamphlets to the crowds below.

The man, who was not identified, flew his drone over Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara during the game between the 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, police said. Later, he flew the drone over Oakland Coliseum during the game between the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos. Reportedly, the pamphlet was a note with a red “X” on it that included some text about the First Amendment.

“It was some type of First Amendment propaganda free speech stuff,” said Lieutenant Dan Moreno of the Santa Clara Police Department. “Something about TV stations being taken over.”

It is illegal to fly a drone within five miles of an airport without authorization, and both Levi’s Stadium and the Coliseum are within five miles of airports. If a drone is flown for hobby purposes, a drone operator must notify the airport prior to flight.

The suspect will now face charges related to the violations of this federal rule as well as a local ordinance that bars drones from the skies within 500 yards of Levi’s Stadium.

“If one of them were to crash, the blades are sharp — we certainly don’t want them hitting the crowd or the players,” Moreno said. “It’s kind of up to the abilities of the drone operators, and there is no way of knowing if they know what they are doing. A stadium is not a good place to fly a drone.”

Ariana Rivera, a 49ers fan, said she found the idea of drones flying over the stadium a bit alarming.

"If they are dropping leaflets, they can drop anything really, if you think about it, and it's kind of scary to think that someone can just fly something over during the game and nobody can really stop it," Rivera said.

Authorities said the pilot’s efforts to distribute propaganda were essentially in vain, as most of the pamphlets dropped were carried away by the wind.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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