Drones crashing big sporting events, including U.S. Open, college football
NEW YORK – Hardly a week goes by anymore without some sort of drone incident in the headlines, almost always for some dubious, nefarious or ridiculous reason (or in the case of the plot to smuggle porn, drugs and guns into a Maryland prison via a drone, for all three of those reasons).
The latest flap is no different.
On Saturday, a drone crash-landed inside the University of Kentucky football stadium during pregame festivities at the Wildcats’ home opener. No one was hurt, according to school spokesman Jay Blanton, who told CNN that they are discussing what to do with the drone’s pilot, a Kentucky student.
That incident happened just two days after a drone disrupted one of the highest-profile events in professional sports: the U.S. Open.
Tennis balls were not the only thing flying Thursday night — a remote-controlled aircraft whizzed above players Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculescu before slamming into an empty area at Louis Armstrong Stadium, the U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement.
No one was hurt, according to the USTA. And while the match paused briefly, it didn’t slow down Pennetta as she marched to a 6-1, 6-4 victory.
The drone’s operator was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone and operating a drone in a New York City public park outside of prescribed area, according to the New York Police Department.
Drones are one of a handful of items — along with things such as food, backpacks, tennis racquets and selfie sticks — that fans are expressly prohibited from bringing on the grounds of the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. Blanton said drones are similarly banned from the Kentucky campus.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown called the U.S. Open incident “just the latest close call involving a drone and clearly illustrates that drones cannot simply be considered children’s toys.”
“Many people operating unmanned aircraft are novices with little or no aviation experience and recklessly flying a drone near, over or into a tennis stadium or an airport or any other place where large groups of people assemble needlessly puts lives in danger,” Brown said in a statement.
The district attorney said it was “fortunate that no one was injured, … but we can’t rely on happenstance to protect the public.”