May 14, 2019
California Man Charged After Flying Drone Over NFL Games
On May 14, 2019, Tracy Mapes was charged in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, San Jose, California, with violating national defense airspace regulations.
Mapes, of North Highlands, California, modified his unmanned aircraft, or drone, by adding a compartment underneath—large enough to carry a payload—and using it to hold dozens of leaflets. On November 26, 2017, Mapes flew the drone over two National Football League games and dropped the leaflets on spectators below. Mapes first piloted his drone over Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, where the San Francisco 49ers were hosting the Seattle Seahawks. He then piloted his drone over the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, where the Oakland Raiders were hosting the Denver Broncos. Tens of thousands of spectators were present for both events.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the Santa Clara Police Department.