NEW YORK (AP) A drone crash during a U.S. Open match has tennis officials thinking about whether they can do more to safeguard the sprawling National Tennis Center from such hazards, a spokesman said Friday.
''Obviously, it's something we are looking at'' after an unmanned aircraft plummeted into empty seats and caused a scare during a women's singles match Thursday night, U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said.
A high school science teacher who had been flying the drone from a park outside the tennis venue was arrested Friday on reckless endangerment and other charges, police said.
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While drones have come too close for comfort to other sporting events, Widmaier said they hadn't been an issue before at the Open, which bans patrons and broadcasters from using the devices.
But security officials have had drones on their list of concerns as they work to protect the 46.5-acre complex. It includes three stadiums and numerous other courts, set in the city's Flushing Meadows Corona Park near LaGuardia Airport.
Drone pilots generally must get official clearance to fly within 5 miles of a sizeable airport, although the city has ''model aircraft fields'' in some parks. They include a part of Flushing Meadows about three-quarters of a mile or more from the tennis center.
The Federal Aviation Administration put drone and model-plane enthusiasts on notice in October that it's illegal to fly the aircraft near or over Major League Baseball, NFL and NCAA Division I college football games and major auto races.
The move came months after police detained people for using small drones at Carolina Panthers and University of Texas football games. This past June, police questioned a man flying a drone near a gate at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia during a Colorado Rockies-Philadelphia Phillies game. He wasn't charged.
It's not yet clear what steps the tennis center might take, Widmaier said.
The drone buzzed diagonally over the court in 10,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium around 8:30 p.m. Thursday before plummeting into the seats as 26th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy played Monica Niculescu of Romania. No one was injured.
''A little bit scary, I have to say,'' said Pennetta, who thought the device might have been a bomb when she heard it fly by. ''With everything going on in the world ... I thought, `OK, it's over.' That's how things happen.''
The drone broke into pieces upon landing, and the match was only briefly interrupted between points while police and fire department personnel went to look at the device. Pennetta ultimately won, 6-1, 6-4.
Drone pilot Daniel Verley, 26, turned himself in. He was released with an appearance ticket for a Sept. 16 court date.
There was no immediate answer to phone and Twitter messages Friday for Verley, and it wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.
The city Education Department said it would monitor the criminal case to decide whether to bring disciplinary action against Verley, who has taught for two years at the city's Academy of Innovative Technology.
The New York Police Department said security at the U.S. Open was already tight before the drone episode and would remain so. Widmeier declined to detail security procedures but said ''everyone remains highly vigilant.''
Meanwhile, it was business as usual at the tournament Friday. Some of the 38,580 spectators hadn't even heard about the drone drama.
''That's crazy!'' said Jan Bialostocki, 21, of Gdansk, Poland. He had been watching a different match at the tournament when the unmanned craft crashed Thursday night.
Associated Press writer Kiley Armstrong and AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.
Follow Jennifer Peltz on Twitter (at) jennpeltz.