Search is on for crazy pilot who flew model plane at Croker game

Martin Flanagan

AN investigation has been launched after a model aircraft was illegally flown over a packed Croke Park.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is attempting to find the pilot of the remote control plane that could have caused a tragedy, the Herald can reveal.

The model aircraft was flown over the Kerry v Mayo game on August 21. It was estimated that at least 50,000 people attended the game and, according to the IAA, such an amateur stunt could have ended in tragedy.

Aviation experts said a fan or one of the GAA players could have been killed or serious injured if the aircraft had failed.

A spokesperson for the Model Aeronautics Council described the pilot as "some maverick" who did "everything that must not be done when flying a remote controlled craft".

IAA corporate communications manager Lilian Cassin, said the aircraft was in breach of aviation regulations.

"This flight was in breach of aviation regulations which prohibit the operation of such aircrafts within controlled airspace or over congested areas without prior permission from the IAA. No permission was sought or given."

Ms Cassin explained that any small aircraft with equipment installed should not be flown within three miles of an aerodrome boundary.

She said written permissions must be sought prior to flying model crafts in a hazardous area.

The Model Aeronautics Council of Ireland said the incident was "rash and ill-thought out".

According to the spokesperson, remote crafts that are flown in highly populated areas could seriously endanger lives.

"The person behind this stunt has ignored all safety rules.The craft could have broken up in the air and killed somebody.

"People who fly remote planes should be aware of safety regulations and in this particular case the craft should not have been flown at all."

The spokesperson added: "There are areas that are designated for the flying of model crafts and in some cases licences must be sought."

A video of the craft being flown over the stadium has since been posted on YouTube, and angry aviation enthusiasts have condemned the incident.

In response to the video, one person wrote, "Okay, now you're just looking for trouble."

In response to online comments, the person believed to be behind the stunt said: "Get over yourself. I'm not a pilot. Pilots fly real planes. This is a toy."