Man Charged With Illegal Drone Flight

( – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a temporary flight restriction (TFR) over Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium during January’s AFC Championship game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs. Those prohibitions are customary during National Football League and Major League Baseball games at venues with 30,000 or more seats. Nevertheless, a Pennsylvania man decided to fly a drone over the stadium. A recent report indicates he’s entering the “find out” portion of that experience.

On February 5, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland issued a press release announcing the filing of a criminal complaint against 44-year-old Matthew Hebert for allegedly flying a drone over M&T Bank Stadium during the January 28 championship match.

Court records confirmed the FAA issued a TFR barring anyone from operating an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) (informally called a “drone”) within a three-nautical mile radius (roughly 3.45 land miles) of the stadium. The ban runs from one hour before game time to an hour after it ends.

Nevertheless, Hebert reportedly flew his DJI camera drone over the stadium, prompting NFL security officials to suspend the game temporarily. Maryland State Police (MSP) Troopers tracked the drone’s flight from the stadium to a location in the 500 block of Baltimore’s South Sharp Street.

FBI agents and MSP troopers deployed to that location and interviewed Hebert. He advised them that he purchased the drone in 2021 and had been using the JDI app to operate it. He said that on past occasions, the app stopped him from using his drone if flight restrictions were in place. Hebert said he relied exclusively on the app to determine the legality of operating his drone. He told officials he assumed flying the UAS over the stadium was okay since the JDI app didn’t block the aircraft’s operation.

Hebert also admitted under questioning that he didn’t possess a remote pilot certificate to operate the drone. He also said the UAS wasn’t registered with the FAA as required by law.

Federal prosecutors charged Hebert with one felony count each of knowingly serving as an airman without a certificate and operating an unregistered UAS. He faces a maximum sentence of three years if convicted. He also faces a year in prison for willfully violating US National Defense Airspace.

Court officials are expected to schedule Hebert’s initial appearance and arraignment later this month.

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