A “drone” once killed a fan at an NFL game

In recent years, the term “drone” has acquired a sinister feel, what with all the lethal firepower that unmanned military planes routinely carry and deploy.  So when a non-weaponized remote-controlled helicopter with simply a camera attached to it is called a “drone,” there’s a real difference.

But maybe not a huge difference.

In the wake of the news that a “drone” invaded the airspace of Bank of America Stadium during a recent preseason contest involving the Chiefs and the Panthers, Jim Celania of WFNZ in Charlotte mentioned this morning that a flying lawnmower once killed a fan at a game in the ’70s.

Initially, I assumed that Jim had simply doused his Post Toasties with something more potent than two-percent.  And while that’s still entirely possible, Jim was right.

It happened in December 1979, at Shea Stadium.  The Jets hosted the Patriots, and at halftime the Electronic Eagles of the Radio Control Association of Greater New York took the field, flying a collection of model airplanes.

During the show, a plane shaped like a lawnmower landed in the stands, striking 20-year-old John Bowen and 25-year-old Kevin Rourke.  Bowen, who reportedly “looked like he had been attacked by an ax,” underwent emergency surgery.  Several days later, Bowen died.

Criminal charges never were pursued, but a lawsuit later was filed against the Jets, the Radio Control Association of Greater New York, and Philip Cushman, who was flying the plane.

So, yeah, it’s probably a good idea for the NFL to ensure that “drones” don’t get anywhere close to the paying customers.  Otherwise, the paying customers will opt to watch the games from a place where the lawnmowers remain in the garage, with all wheels on the ground at all times.

14 responses to “A “drone” once killed a fan at an NFL game

  1. Drones are a bad idea. Whether in the stadium or under the control of Obama where he purposefully killed a 15 year old Colorado boy because he chose to.

    The sad thing is there is expected to be 10-20,000 drones in the sky by the end of the decade. Of course all for you safety.

  2. I used to fly RC planes and I was warned that they are deadly. The field that I flew at made it mandatory that each person belong to the AMA and signed up for their insurance. $1,000,000 worth of protection and this was in the early ’90’s. I sure getting hit with a 5 pound object going 80mph with a 18000 RPM prop on the front can do some damage!

  3. Gotta love Jim…the old man will come up with some stories but this one he told was true haha

    Love the Mac Attack in the mornings from 6am-10am on WFNZ 610 Charlotte

  4. This sounds so very much like the sort of thing you would expect to happen at Shea Stadium in 1979.

  5. Great idea! Put up several dozen flying scythes in a large bowl lined with thousands of people. What could go wrong?
    Caligula, meet the 21st century. We are much more creative than you could ever hope to be…

  6. John Bowen was my cousin and my father’s godson. His 18 year old brother would have been killed too if he hadn’t gotten up to go to the concession stands. We were watching the game in Massachusetts, not aware that they had gone to NY for the game. I saw the ambulance leaving the field before the second half started and said to my dad “Imagine if you knew someone at that game how worried you might be right now”. A few hours later we got the call.

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