Drone Pilot Heavily Fined for Flight Halting English Pro Soccer Match

A UK drone pilot has been fined nearly $4,500 for an illegal flight that, among many other consequences, forced a money-time professional soccer match to be halted after the craft hovered low over players.

Drone pilot heavily fined (but tenderly scolded) for flight halting English pro soccer match

Drone pilot heavily fined (but tenderly scolded) for flight halting English pro soccer match

The illicit flight occurred on May 7, when it caused the referee to clear the pitch during a semi-final game between home side Chesterfield and visiting Bromley, who were battling for promotion from England’s fifth-level pro National League. During the second half, a drone flew over the stadium and its crowd of 9,600 – at one point hovered about 20 feet above the pitch – which under standing rules required play to be stopped.

Yesterday, a court in North East Derbyshire court slapped pilot Lewis Franks £3,500 ($4,478) for the array of illegalities the outing involved, but was oddly comforting in its accompanying comments.

In addition to violating laws against operating drones around or over organized soccer matches, the court sanctioned Frank for breaking restrictions on overflying people and beyond visual line of sight missions, failing to register as a drone pilot, and the attendant no-no of lacking that license to present to police as demanded.

As a demonstration of his incalcitrant flair in behind his illegal UAV sortie, Franks also admitted to having driven a borrowed car without insurance to get to and leave the Chesterfield stadium area. While at the wheel, he also failed to stop when summoned by cops who busted him for having disrupted the crunch soccer match (which the home team eventually won, before blowing its chances to move up to the higher division the following weekend).

In addition to violating laws against operating drones around or over organized soccer matches, the court sanctioned Frank for breaking restrictions on overflying people and beyond visual line of sight missions, failing to register as a drone pilot, and the attendant no-no of lacking that license to present to police as demanded.

As a demonstration of his incalcitrant flair in behind his illegal UAV sortie, Franks also admitted to having driven a borrowed car without insurance to get to and leave the Chesterfield stadium area. While at the wheel, he also failed to stop when summoned by cops who busted him for having disrupted the crunch soccer match (which the home team eventually won, before blowing its chances to move up to the higher division the following weekend).

Then, finding her inner Hanging Judge, Wood really let Franks have both barrels.

“We’ve been fair with you, and from my perspective, it’s been very interesting,” Wood almost certainly did not growl. “It’s fun for you and we get why, but you have to be properly trained and have to be properly licensed.”

Local accounts did not reveal whether Franks was spotted leaving the courthouse with a grin on his face, and planning his next flight to coincide with Chesterfield’s 2023-24 season opener.

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