LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky campus police have charged law student Peyton Wilson with second degree wanton endangerment for operating a drone that crashed into a section of Commonwealth Stadium before the Wildcats’ season-opening football game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The school also says it has forwarded its findings to the Federal Aviation Administration for further review.
According to Friday’s release, Wilson, 24, of Louisville, Ky., was operating the unmanned aircraft outside the remodeled stadium Saturday night before it crashed into suite-level glass on the south side. The drone hovered close by skydivers parachuting into the stadium with American flags. One of the skydivers told police he had to take evasive measures to avoid the drone, which came within 20 feet of his parachute.
There were no injuries or damage to the stadium, which recently underwent a $120 million renovation.
The university does not have a written policy banning drones and is studying the issue. In the meantime, the aircraft are banned on campus.
FAA policy 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 website 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 Wilson’s drone was within a half-mile of two at nearby UK Chandler and Baptist hospitals, both within walking distance of the stadium. Chandler’s helipad 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 last 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 last 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.