A GoPro Karma drone was recorded flying in Petco field during a Padres home stand against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sadly, the drone flight ended with it crashing into spectators in the upper reaches of the stadium seating.
It is ironic to have this incident occur just days after San Diego enacted new drone regulations that allow local law enforcement to be more aggressive in enforcing rules that mirror federal regulations.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has already prohibited drone flights in or over their stadiums, and FAA rules also prohibit drone flights within 3 nautical miles of sports stadiums.
Multiple versions of the Karma crash in San Diego can be found on Youtube. This video, below, is captured on what appears to be a smartphone as they are recording activity on the field:
Sadly the drone pilot lost control of the aircraft and it careened into spectators, who did not appear to be injured in the incident.
Days prior to the crash the FAA regulations requiring drone pilots to register their aircraft with the FAA was struck down by a Court of Appeal in Washington D.C. which means this drone will likely not carry any FAA registration number that would allow for identification of the owner.
That shouldn’t be an issue however, as GoPro’s own software update system currently tracks users and anyone who purchased this Karma drone from GoPro would have likely registered it with the manufacturer. As well, there is likely video footage on the Karma mounted GoPro that will identify the owner.
Negative publicity like this incident in San Diego is particularly frustrating for drone owners who have purchased these hobby aircraft in great numbers over the last few years.
Additional video, provided by SportsCenter shows the actual crash into the spectators in the upper deck:
DJI Global of China, the premier maker of both commercial and recreational drones has recently given it’s users notice that the next software upgrade will include features that automatically enforce local flight restrictions within the device. Pilots attempting to operate their drones in no-fly-zones or at prohibited altitudes will be automatically prevented from doing so by the software.
GoPro’s reputation has suffered in the last year as the Karma drone was recalled shortly after it’s release for an issued related to battery engagement that had users crashing after losing power. The problem was corrected and GoPro has done a world class job of re-launching the Karma drone after the recall.