Drone Pilot Flying Over Ravens-Chiefs Game Charged: DOJ

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Spectators look on during the playing of the national anthem prior to the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 28 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Chiefs won 17-10. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Patch reporter Megan VerHelst wrote this story.

MARYLAND — A Pennsylvania man is facing federal charges after authorities said he flew a drone over M&T Bank Stadium during the AFC Championship game between the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs, causing security to temporarily suspend the game.

Matthew Hebert, 44, of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, was charged Monday following the Jan. 28 football game in Baltimore. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

According to the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, the Federal Aviation Administration had put in place a temporary flight restriction over M&T Bank Stadium during the game, which restricted certain aircraft including drones from flying within a three-nautical-mile radius of the stadium. According to prosecutors, the restriction went into effect an hour before the game started and remained in place for one hour after.

According to prosecutors, an unidentified and unapproved drone was spotted over the stadium during the game, prompting NFL security to temporarily suspend play. Maryland State Police troopers tracked the drone to the 500 block of South Sharp Street in Baltimore, where it landed. FBI agents were also called to the location to assist troopers, court documents show.

After speaking with Hebert, authorities learned he purchased the drone in 2021 and used his phone to access the DJI mobile application to fly the aircraft. The drone was not registered and Hebert did not possess a remote pilot certificate to operate it.

According to prosecutors, Hebert said he relied on the DJI mobile app to know whether he was allowed to fly the drone. He also told authorities that he assumed he was able to fly the drone during the football game because the app did not prevent him from doing so.

Court documents said Hebert flew the drone approximately 100 meters or higher for about two minutes. During the flight, prosecutors said he captured approximately six photos of himself and the stadium and may have taken video as well.

If convicted, Hebert also faces a maximum of one year in federal prison for willfully violating United States National Defense Airspace, prosecutors said.

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