LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — University of Kentucky officials continue to investigate the crash of a student’s drone into a section of Commonwealth Stadium before Saturday night’s football game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
The school has not released the student’s name, and spokesman Jay Blanton said Sunday a decision on any discipline isn’t likely before Tuesday as university police determine what violations occurred.
The subject of drone use is a moving target, so to speak, as federal and local officials examine how to regulate them with growing personal and commercial use.
Kentucky does not have a written policy banning the unmanned aircraft, but as the school studies the issue, Blanton said drones aren’t allowed on campus and added, “it’s pretty clear that they’re not allowed around the stadium on game day.”
The drone flew as skydivers parachuted onto the field with American flags before the Wildcats’ 40-33 victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns. It crashed into the southwest corner of the newly remodeled stadium at the suite level. There were no injuries or damage to the stadium.
Blanton said the school is applying for an exemption to allow limited flights for research and other allowable uses, but recommendations aren’t expected until later this semester.
No one could be reached at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Louisville office on Sunday, but agency for airspace around special events such as games restricts flights for three nautical miles and up to 3,000 feet. Safety guidelines for model aircraft suggested on the agency’s web site include flying below 400 feet, not flying within five miles of an airport and avoiding “people or stadiums.”
Helipads are considered airspace as well, and the student’s drone was within a half-mile of two at nearby UK Chandler and Baptist hospitals within walking distance of the stadium. In fact, the helipad for UK Chandler could be seen just beyond where the drone hovered behind a scoreboard above the west end zone.
It was the second incident involving a drone at a sports event in the past week.
An unmanned aircraft plummeted into empty seats and caused a scare during a women’s singles match Thursday night at the U.S. Open. No one was injured, but it broke into pieces as it crashed.
A high school science teacher who had been flying the drone from a park outside the tennis venue was arrested Friday on reckless endangerment and other charges, police said.
The FAA put drone and model-plane enthusiasts on notice last October that it’s illegal to fly the aircraft near Major League Baseball, NFL and NCAA Division I college football games and major auto races.
The move came months after police detained people for using small drones at Carolina Panthers and University of Texas football games. This past June, police questioned a man flying a drone near a gate at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia during a Colorado Rockies-Philadelphia Phillies game.