Drone pilot gets hefty fine after flying his machine over an Ed Sheeran concert

As Ed Sheeran launched into one of his many hit singles during an outdoor concert in Brisbane, Australia last month, a camera-toting drone flew overhead to catch a glimpse of the British singer-songwriter.

But the police were having none of it, and quickly tracked down the pilot outside the Suncorp Stadium where Sheeran was performing, the Brisbane Times reported.

In recent days, the unnamed perpetrator was hit with a fine of 1,050 Australian dollars ($805) for the reckless drone flight. A ticket to the show would have been a lot cheaper in comparison, at around $165 Australian dollars ($125), though admittedly the stadium seats wouldn’t have offered the elevated view that he was presumably going after with his drone camera.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority said the drone, likely a popular consumer quadcopter, was flown at night and within 30 meters of an area packed with people, in breach of local safety regulations. In addition, the unnamed pilot flew the drone beyond the line of sight, as he was outside the stadium when he sent his remotely controlled copter skyward. As in the U.S., drone pilots have to be able to see their flying machine at all times when it’s in the air.

It’s not known if Sheeran noticed the drone as he played in front of more than 50,000 fans, but he doesn’t appear to have been in any danger during the prohibited flyover.

The last time we heard about a performer coming too close to a drone was in 2015 when Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias reached out to grab a quadcopter during a show in Tijuana, Mexico. In that case, the drone had permission to be there, with the event’s organizers using it to capture crowd shots. When it flew by the stage, Iglesias somewhat foolishly reached out to grab it, slicing several of his fingers on the propellers in the process. Yes, there was blood, though Iglesias, ever the pro, plowed on with his set.

In the U.S., we don’t hear too many stories of drones flying over stadiums, though it certainly happens from time to time. A baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres at Petco Park last year, for example, saw an out-of-control quadcopter crash into an empty seat inside the stadium, narrowly missing spectators sitting close by.

Meanwhile, in an effort to demonstrate it’s not messing about when it comes to keeping the skies safe over major sporting events, the Federal Aviation Administration warned in 2016 that it would shoot down any rogue drones spotted inside the no-fly zone set up around Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California for the Super Bowl.

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