SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — The man arrested for flying his drone during the 49ers game spoke out about why he did tried to release leaflets over the stadium to KPIX 5 on Monday.
It was not difficult to locate arrested drone pilot Tracey Mapes. KPIX 5 found him sitting in front of the Santa Clara Police Department.
Mapes was arrested Sunday for flying a drone over the 49ers game at Levi’s Stadium and dropping a stack of leaflets over the crowd.
The FAA prohibits drone flights over people, especially sporting events, because of the crash danger.
The pilot insisted that the stunt had nothing to do with football.
“This isn’t a story about a drone. This is a story about the fabric of American history. The First Amendment,” explained Mapes.
Mapes, who said he worked a freelance cameraman for 10 years, was dropping these papers with an anti-media message saying television stations in particular are corrupt and “infiltrated by prostitutes and felons.”
When asked what his response might be to some who might call him a lunatic conspiracy theorist, Mapes replied, “If you want to know how they control the message, the government controls the message, this is how they do it.”
The wind carried the leaflets, blowing them past the stadium where only a handful actually made it down.
“Given the weather, a lot of leaflets did fly away,” said Santa Clara Police Captain Wahid Kazem
The stadium security team quickly got a description of his car. Mapes was arrested before dropping more leaflets at the Oakland Coliseum during the Raiders game.
YouTube and Facebook accounts associated with Mapes show him making practice drops where he would take note of how the wind affected this spread pattern of the leaflets.
Using what appears to be a heavily modified DJI Mavic Pro, the clips show him making drops at local TV stations in Sacramento.
He even makes a drop at a public ceremony at the fire fighters memorial in Sacramento.
KPIX 5 security analyst Jeff Harp said drone threats are real.
“I think as we see technology evolve with these pieces of equipment, they’re gonna become more sophisticated, they’re gonna become cheaper, more people are gonna have them,” said Harp. “Therefore, we’re gonna have more problems.”
Harp also questioned the motivation behind what Mapes did.
“There’s some mental health issues involved here,” said Harp.
When asked whether he would use a drone drop leaflets over a stadium again, Mapes replied, “I don’t know that. I don’t know that.”