Flyer of drone at Bengals playoff game could be in ‘serious’ trouble

One expert expects the FAA to bring the hammer down on the unknown pilot.
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 10:29 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A drone was spotted flying above Paul Brown Stadium during the Bengals’ historic win on Saturday… and whoever flew it, according to one pilot, is in deep trouble.

Joe Wessels, a drone pilot certified with the Federal Aviation Administration, calls that drone flyer’s actions a “blatant disregard for the rules.”

A video is circulating on YouTube showing the Bengals’ first playoff win in 31 years from some breathtaking aerial angles.

Wessels broke down the YouTube video, in the process spotting a laundry list of FAA violations.

“Flying over people… flying at night… flying beyond the visual line of sight… just to get started,” he said.

Those regulations exist for a reason.

“It only takes one knucklehead to come in and try something that would cause a major catastrophic incident,” Wessels said.

He explains the only way it would be legal in this instance is if the pilot had permission from all of the Bengals, the NFL and the FAA, which he says is unlikely.

Now the pilot could face FAA fines, Wessels says.

“You’re talking $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 fines, easily,” he said. “They’ll add up very quickly, and this person who flew had multiple violations.”

Because drones have to be registered, Wessels expects it’s only a matter of time until the pilot faces the consequences.

“They’ll find this person and he or she will be in serious, serious trouble.”

The FAA said their local safety office is aware of the video and is investigating.

Their statement reads in full:

“When regulatory violations are suspected, the FAA works with federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement partners to assist with investigations and prosecutions. Education is often employed to help drone pilots avoid future airspace violations. The FAA may take enforcement action to address illegal operations that create a safety risk. Operators who fly recklessly, endangering other aircraft of people or property on the ground, face fines and criminal penalties, including possible jail time. The FAA has personnel in field offices across the country who perform investigations and when necessary, take appropriate enforcement actions.”

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