Just What We Needed… Drone Pilot Busted Near Super Bowl

Mon, Feb 08, 2021

Despite Extensive FAA Warnings, One Pilot Caught Busting The Super Bowl TFR

We previously noted that the FAA was doing a LOT of pre-Super Bowl warnings about the issues involved… this is why… and we’re ALL going to suffer for it. 

The office of United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez has confirmed the filing of a criminal complaint charging Henry Alejandro Jimenez (33, Orlando) with violating national defense airspace. If convicted, Jimenez faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison.

According to the complaint, on February 3, 2021, the FAA issued a temporary flight restriction (TFR) covering an area extending outward from downtown Tampa. This TFR, along with others, was issued as part of a comprehensive security plan designed to protect and secure the events leading up to, and including, Super Bowl LV. That day, FBI agents saw a UAS flying near the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk—an area within the TFR. The FBI agents then located Jiminez, the operator of the drone, nearby in downtown Tampa.

Jimenez stated that he is an FAA-licensed remote pilot UAS operator and that he was aware that a TFR was in place for the Super Bowl.

A review of his drone’s flight path showed that it had traveled over Julian B. Lane Waterfront Park, which was hosting public events related to the Super Bowl. Jimenez also appears to have operated his drone without maintaining an uninterrupted visual line of sight for the entire flight, as required by FAA regulations. Furthermore, Jimenez flew his drone over people and moving vehicles.

“This is a perfect example of the serious consequences drone operators face when they choose to ignore the temporary flight restrictions,” said FBI Tampa Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson. “The TFRs are in place for your safety during Super Bowl week. Be aware of the NO DRONE ZONES and report any suspicious activity to the FBI or local law enforcement.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Scruggs.

FMI: www.justice.gov
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