FAA investigating drone flying inside stadium during ‘no-fly’ restrictions at Bengals playoff game

CINCINNATI — The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a drone that was seen flying inside Paul Brown Stadium, near fans and the field of play, during the Cincinnati Bengals playoff game Saturday.

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The FAA confirmed the investigation to our news partners at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati after fans reported the drone and a video of the flight was posted to a public YouTube channel.

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NFL stadiums are considered no-fly zones in and around stadiums one hour before through one hour after the scheduled time of an event, unless a waiver is approved by the FAA, according to an FAA website. During this time, drone flights are prohibited within a three-mile nautical radius of the stadium until one hour after the game is completed.

Comments on the YouTube video are largely critical of the pilot for uploading the footage, accusing the pilot of violating specific rules that could make it harder for other drone pilots in the future.

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“A lot of us go through a lot. Learn the rules, follow guidelines, get certified. They make it so clear to not fly in or around stadiums an hour before and an hour after. Let alone a stadium full of people over their heads. You are definitely one of the reasons rules will get stricter and your hurting the hobbyists the most. I don’t know anyone that flies that will approve of this,” user Indy Aerial Drone Photography LLC said in a video comment.

“Thanks a lot. You and others like you are the reason our hobby or business will be regulated out of existence,” user Derrick Hanyes added.

The drone caught a lot of Bengals fans by surprise including Dave Caldwell who said he was in the south endzone when he saw the drone above the crowd.

“I just happened to look up and see a light-colored drone flying around,” Caldwell told WCPO-TV. “It looked like it was the size of a small laptop computer.”

Chris Leasure, owner of Texoma Drone Solutions in Wichita Falls, Texas said he filed a complaint with the FAA after watching the drone footage.

“It’s extremely dangerous to fly a drone over people who are not aware that the drone is there,” Leasure said.

According to the FAA, drone users who violate rules or operate drones in a “dangerous manner” could face “enforcement action” by the FAA.