Update: Initial reports that the ‘drones’ flew at the helicopter may not be entirely accurate. Click here to read our followup coverage.
Earlier this week, two drones narrowly avoided a collision with a New York Police Department’s helicopter just over the George Washington Bridge. It took aversion maneuvers by the quick-thinking helicopter pilot to ensure no collision took place. But just because there wasn’t any critical harm done doesn’t mean the individuals behind the reckless drones are getting off free.
According to the NY Post, the NYPD Aviation Unit chopper was taking its usual patrol route when, at approximately 12:15am, the pilot of the helicopter noticed two small UAVs headed in its direction.
The pilot had to change course in an attempt to avoid the two drones, because despite the camera copters weighing only a few pounds a pop, the damage the chopper would’ve sustained from them could’ve been fatal. After changing its course and getting a safe distance away, the helicopter’s pilot follow one of the drones to its landing site and coordinated officers to its location.
The two men behind the drones ended up being Remy Castro and Wilkins Mendosa, both of whom were arrested on the spot.
Arraigned on felony reckless endangerment charges and released without bail, the two don’t seem too phased by the situation. “We were just playing with it.” Mendoza told the NYPost. “[The charges are] crazy.” On top of that, the Post also reports that Castro told the Manhattan Criminal Court that, “[The Drone] is just a toy.”
It only takes a small few to screw it up for everyone and it looks like these two gentlemen may be that ‘small few’ for NYC and the NYPD’s stance on drones. Drones are a continually hot topic that isn’t going to simmer down anytime soon if pilots aren’t responsible.
So, what can we take away from this? Yes, drones may be toys in certain contexts, but they can also be invasive and dangerous. Just be responsible and take proper safety measures so you’re not made an example of.