As the US Open, a Grand Slam event, begins Monday in New York City with 100% spectator capacity, it marks a return to normalcy for the global tennis community. And so the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is taking zero chances with anyone who may be interested in getting a “unique view” of the tournament. This means no drones.
The NYPD, along with its Counterterrorism Bureau, is reminding drone pilots that launching, landing, or operating drones within city limits is strictly prohibited.
And if you get caught violating the city’s drone laws, you will be prosecuted and subjected to city, state, and federal penalties and fines. Meanwhile, you can also say goodbye to your drone and its connected devices.
Even last year, when the US Open took place as a spectator-less event, the NYPD had a counter-drone team on hand to intercept rogue drone flights. And you can’t blame the police department for being extra vigilant, having already encountered a drone incident in 2015.
Drone crash at US Open
At the US Open in 2015, a drone crashed into the stands of the Louis Armstrong Stadium during a televised night session match between Flavia Pennetta of Italy and Monica Niculescu of Romania. The episode was unnerving for the players, to say the least. Pennetta called the incident “a little scary” during an interview, with her initial reaction being that the drone might have been a bomb.
It was a Brooklyn-based science teacher who crashed that unauthorized 3DR Solo drone. But thankfully, since the crash occurred in an unoccupied area of the venue and no one was injured, the teacher got away with five days of community service.
This doesn’t mean that the US Open has lost all chill when it comes to drones though.
‘Testing’ drone technology at US Open
Earlier this year, the organizers of the US Open took to social media to announce that as part of social distancing protocols, the tournament would be testing the use of drone technology to deliver towels to the players.
The announcement sparked a lot of outrage, with many people calling the move “ridiculous,” “absurd,” and “unnecessary” before realizing that it was supposed to be an April Fools’ joke.
But the NYPD’s warning to drone operators is no joke. As tempting as it may be to snatch a bird’s-eye view of the game, it’s probably best to just catch the action on TV.
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