Drone Disruption at AFC Championship Game Leads to Federal Charges

A High-Flying Drone Hazard Interrupts Major Sporting Event

In a startling drone incident that marred the excitement of the AFC Championship game on January 28 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, a man has been charged with felony federal offenses for illegally operating a drone over the stadium, reports CBS News.

Matthew Herbert, a 44-year-old resident of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, caused a significant delay during the Baltimore Ravens' pivotal playoff game, raising serious security concerns and highlighting the potential dangers of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at large public events.


Federal Authorities Respond to Security Breach

Attorney Erek Barron underscored the severity of the situation, stating, “Illegally operating drones poses a significant security risk that will lead to federal charges.”

He reminded the public that temporary flight restrictions (TFR) are standard protocol during large sporting events to prevent such incidents. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had indeed implemented a TFR for the area surrounding M&T Bank Stadium, which explicitly prohibited drone flights within a three-nautical mile radius.

Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the FBI's Baltimore Field Office further emphasized the responsibilities of drone operators, warning of the “potential dangers of operating a drone in violation of federal laws and regulations.”

Rothrock's statement highlighted the risks not only to the public but also the potential interference with law enforcement and security operations.

Details of the Drone Incident

According to the , the game faced temporary suspension when NFL Security identified an “unidentified and unapproved drone” as a significant threat. State Troopers were able to track the drone's movement over the stadium and locate its landing site in the 500 block of South Sharp Street in Baltimore, where Herbert was found, and subsequently spoke with law enforcement officers.

Investigations revealed that Herbert had purchased the DJI drone in 2021 and operated it using a DJI account without registering the device or possessing the necessary Remote Pilot certificate. Allegedly, Herbert flew the drone to a height of approximately 330 feet for about two minutes, capturing six photos of himself and the stadium and possibly recording a video.

Legal Consequences and Public Safety Message

Herbert now faces up to three years in federal prison if convicted of knowingly operating an unregistered UAS and serving as an airman without the required certification. This case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of adhering to federal regulations concerning drone operations, especially around crowded public venues.

The incident at the AFC Championship game not only disrupted a major sporting event but also highlighted the critical need for awareness and among drone operators regarding safe and drone use. Federal authorities hope this case will underscore the potential consequences of irresponsible drone operations and reinforce the importance of compliance with all applicable laws and regulations to ensure public safety.

Photo: Wikipedia.

Follow DroneXL.co on your Google News feed.

Get your Part 107 Certificate

Pass the test and take to the skies with the Pilot Institute. We have helped thousands of people become airplane and commercial drone pilots. Our courses are designed by industry experts to help you pass FAA tests and achieve your dreams.

pilot institute dronexl

Copyright © DroneXL.co 2023. All rights reserved. The content, images, and intellectual property on this website are protected by copyright law. Reproduction or distribution of any material without prior written permission from DroneXL.co is strictly prohibited. For permissions and inquiries, please contact us here.

FTC: DroneXL.co is an Amazon Associate and uses affiliate links that can generate income from qualifying purchases. We do not sell, share, rent out, or spam your email.

Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, 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 @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

Articles: 2952

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap