Drone Operators Arrested After Close Call with NYPD Helicopter

Two men have been apprehended after allegedly flying a drone within 800 feet of an NYPD helicopter.

NYPD Helicopter

NYPD Helicopter

** In this undated photo, an NYPD
helicopter patrols New York City.**

Two men have been arrested in New York after one of the drones they were flying allegedly came within 800 feet of a New York Police Department helicopter early Tuesday morning.

The helicopter was flying at 2,000 feet near the George Washington Bridge at approximately 12:15 a.m. when one of the two drones piloted by the men reportedly flew toward the helicopter, forcing the crew to alter its course.

After the incident, the helicopter followed the drones to their landing site in Fort Tryon Park, where they apprehended the pilots. One of the two men, ages 34 and 23, reportedly referred to the drone as “just a toy.” His lawyer maintains that the drone can climb no higher than 300 feet, but a friend of the drone operators says he has seen them fly it as high as 5,000 feet. Both of the men have been charged with reckless endangerment.

The incident is the latest in a series of close encounters between aircraft and drones to make headlines in the past several months. The arrest comes on the heels of a Department of Transportation report that says the FAA is likely going to miss its 2015 deadline for integrating drones into American airspace. The deadline was signed into law by Congress in 2012 with its passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act.

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