Drones are great. But they are also flying machines that can do lots of stupid and dangerous things. Like, for example, fly over a major league baseball game packed with spectators. It happened at Fenway Park last night, and the FAA is not happy.
The illegal flight took place last night during a Red Sox-Blue Jays game at Fenway; the drone, and conspicuously white DJI Phantom, reportedly first appeared up around 9:30 PM, coming and going over the next hour.
One of the many fans who shot a video of the drone, Chris O'Brien, told CBS Boston that it would kind of drop quickly then go back up then drop and spin. It was getting really low and close to the players. At that point it was getting really low and I was wondering if they will pause the game and whatever, but they never did.
Places where flying is regularly prohibited, like airports and major landmarks like stadiums, often have no-fly rules baked into the GPS systems of drones – and that's the case with DJI. In a statement, however, the company said that "whoever flew this drone over the stadium apparently overrode our geofencing system and deliberately violated the FAA temporary flight restriction in place over the game."
The FAA said that it (and Boston PD) is investigating both local news and a tweet explaining why it is illegal.
It's three nautical miles, which is quite a distance, covering much of central Boston. You do not really take chances when there are tens of thousands of people all gathered on one spot on a regular basis like that. Drones open up some pretty ugly security scenarios.
Of course, this was not a mile and half from Fenway, which could have earned a slap on the wrist, but directly over the park, which as the FAA notes above could lead to hundreds of thousands in fines and actual prison time. It's not hard to imagine why: If that drone had lost power or caught a gust (or hit by a fly ball, at that altitude), it could have hurt or killed someone in the crowd.
It's especially concerned when the FAA is working on establishing new rules for both hobby and professional drone use. You should leave a comment here if you feel strongly about this, by the way.
Here's hoping they catch the idiot who did this. It just goes to show that you can not trust people to follow the rules, even when they're coded into a craft's OS. It's like this that makes the mandatory registration of drones sound like a pretty good idea.
(Red Sox won, by the way. But the season is off to a rough start.)