Two men charged with crimes for illegally flying drones over sporting events

Two individuals from the Cincinnati region have been charged with federal charges for allegedly illegally flying drones above professional sports events in the city.

A federal grand jury accused the men in separate instances involving Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds events.

Illegally flying drones over sporting events

On January 15, the Cincinnati Bengals hosted an NFL playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium. Dailon Dabney, 24, of Cincinnati, is accused of unlawfully flying his drone into the stadium and hovering above the players and sections of the stadium audience throughout the game. Dabney reportedly videotaped his drone flight and shared it on social media and YouTube.

The Cincinnati Reds' 2022 season began on April 12 with the opening game of the season at Great American Ballpark. Travis Lenhoff, 38, of Northern , is accused of flying a drone into the prohibited flight area of Great American Ballpark during the Opening Day celebrations.

“This is a growing problem that poses a direct risk to the players and the individuals in the stands,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “Even if the operator does not have an intent to harm, the operator could easily lose control and injure someone. Moreover, the sight of a drone flying overhead could lead to a panic in the crowd. If you attend these events like Reds games and Bengals games – leave the drones at home.”

“Flying a drone over a stadium full of fans is dangerous and illegal without the proper FAA training, licensing, and approved flight plan,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers. “We will continue to work with the FAA and local to investigate these incidents when proper FAA protocols and procedures are not followed.”

Any drone weighing more than 0.55 pounds but less than 55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Dabney and Lenhoff's drones are not FAA-registered, and they lack remote pilot certification.

Each defendant is accused of operating an unregistered drone, a federal offense punishable by up to three years in jail. Dabney is also accused of breaking a temporary flying restriction (punishable by up to one year in prison). Dabney and Lenhoff have their first court appearances planned for 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 in Cincinnati.

Hat tip to James for notifying us.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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