Red Zone

FAA investigating drone at Chiefs’ game at Carolina

Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart scored a touchdown in the Panthers’ preseason victory over the Chiefs on Aug. 17.
Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart scored a touchdown in the Panthers’ preseason victory over the Chiefs on Aug. 17. The Associated Press

Something besides a football was flying above the field during the Chiefs’ 28-17 preseason loss at Carolina on Aug. 17.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Tuesday that a camera-toting drone flew into Bank of America Stadium during the exhibition game. Its operator was detained and, after questioning, the unidentified man was released and the information was forwarded to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has jurisdiction over such matters, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokesman Rob Tufano.

Invasion of stadium airspace is banned by both the NFL and the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We have leaguewide policies that prohibit any type of drone in parking lots or in stadiums,” said Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman.

He said he was not aware of drones invading any other NFL venues.

“We are closely monitoring this issue with our clubs,” McCarthy said.

Brandon Parks was in Section 105 when he noticed the object with flashing green and red lights with about 6 minutes left in the game.

“It had all of our section’s attention and the cops,” Parks said. “Then a helicopter came and flashed a light on it and then the drone vanished downward behind the Wells Fargo building. And that was all we saw of it.”

FAA officials restrict aircraft operations in the vicinity of major sporting events. Airspace over Bank of America Stadium is considered Class B where unmanned aircraft are prohibited. Class B airspace is some of the most restricted and includes the sky around the nation’s busiest airports, including Charlotte Douglas International, according to the FAA.

A report from Charlotte-Mecklenburg police has been received by the FAA, and it is investigating, the agency said Tuesday.

Few people apparently noticed the intrusion. Panthers spokesman Charles Dayton said the team was unaware of the incident and only knew about it because of an inquiry from a reporter.

According to police, the drone flew into the stadium area late in the game. Officer J.S. Franklin wrote in his report that a person was “stopped and questioned after causing a disturbance at the Carolina Panthers Stadium.”