SAN JOSE — A 56-year-old Sacramento area man violated national defense airspace regulations in 2017 when he used a drone to drop anti-media leaflets on NFL games at Levi’s Stadium and the Oakland Coliseum, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Mapes modified a drone to carry a payload of leaflets. On Nov. 26, he allegedly dropped the leaflets on spectators, first at Levi’s, where the San Francisco 49ers were hosting the Seattle Seahawks, and then at the Coliseum, where the Oakland Raiders were hosting the Denver Broncos.
Printed on the leaflets was a rant against television news, according to Santa Clara police.
Aircraft including drones are typically prohibited from flying over a major sporting event unless expressly authorized by event officials. This national defense airspace includes the area above and within a 3-mile radius of NFL stadiums during NFL games.
A day after the incident, Mapes told KGO-TV, this news organization’s media partner, that he had to take his long-running cause to redress perceived violations of the U.S. Constitution to the next level.
“Somebody doesn’t do what I did yesterday because they didn’t believe in what they were trying to tell you,” Mapes said in an interview. “I’ve been telling this story for 10 years.”
Mapes is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on June 4, according to the Justice Department.
Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this report.