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Incident could be one of the nation’s first such cases to result in criminal charges

By Allyson Escobar
[email protected]

FBI agents on Thursday arrested a Hollywood man Thursday on the federal charge of recklessly operating a drone, which collided with a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter in September.

The Sept. 18 early-morning incident is believed to be the first criminal case in the nation that alleges the unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, according to a news release.

Authorities said drone camera footage showed that Andrew Rene Hernandez, 22, flew the drone. He was charged with one count of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, a Department of Justice news release said.

The drone damaged the LAPD aircraft and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing, department officials said. The drone then fell from the sky, damaging a vehicle.

According to the complaint, just after midnight Sept. 18, police officers were responding to a burglary call at a Hollywood pharmacy and needed air support. As the helicopter approached, the pilot saw the drone and tried to evade it, but it crashed into the helicopter, forcing an emergency landing at a nearby heliport.

Officials reported damage to the helicopter’s nose, antenna and bottom engine covers. The collision could have been deadly, officials said.

“If the drone had struck the helicopter’s main rotor instead of the fuselage, it could have brought the helicopter down,” according to the complaint.


Hernandez admitted to flying the drone — controlled by a device attached to his smartphone — to “see what was going on,” according to the department.

There is no indication that Hernandez, who lives nearby, was involved in the pharmacy burglary, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Authorities are concerned about illegal drone activity, he said.

“T his case resulted from a serious incident that could have ended very badly as a result of the reckless actions of the drone operator,” Mrozek said.

Those using drones unsafely can face fines of up to $1,501 per violation. Hernandez’s misdemeanor offense carries a sentence of up to one year in federal prison, the release states.
 

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So how high was the drone? I thought RC control planes can go to 300 feet while aircraft need to be higher than 500.
 

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So how high was the drone? I thought RC control planes can go to 300 feet while aircraft need to be higher than 500.
I think drones can go higher with a simple hack or mod(can't remember the legal height or height they can achieve). Someone on here was talking about it not long ago but it's illegal to do. I don't think police choppers have restrictions on height when doing active police work, i have seen them really low on several occasions along with other agencies like homeland security.
 

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Maximum altitude for a drone is 400 feet agl BUT this is a rule not a law.
This can be circumvented very easily on most drones. On mine, I simply need to move a slider. The drones maximum achievable altitude is 1600 feet.

Couple things to keep in mind....
You must always have VLoS (visual line of sight) to your drone. (at 1600 feet you can not see a drone)
Drones keep electronic logs of their flights.
While it is a "rule" and something drilled into drone pilots that you have to stay below 400 feet there is no enforceable law to stop someone.
Its also drilled into you NOT to fly your drone over emergency situations (like the genius in the article did)
There are lots of enforceable and unenforceable rules to flying drones and idiots like the one in the article are the reason that there is a large segment of society and government that hates drones and why the FAA is continually cracking down on drones. There is a slate of very restrictive laws that are supposedly coming by 2023.

There are definitely some parallels between the 2A community and the drone community in some regards.
 
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there is certainly a fair amount of drone anger.....folks around here do not like drones hovering over their property breeching their privacy......folks often complain about big brother is watching but being a nosey neighbor makes it personal.

and its about to get a lot worse on big brother's end.....the tax appraisal office is going to start to use drones to fly over people's property to get a better idea about future taxes.....seeing where they have been unable to look before. Fences, privacy horticulture, and distance will no longer be a problem....for the govt or a nosey neighbor.....or a total stranger.

but....since air space is not under the property owner's control...the only option left is to knock the offending drone down....since gun fire would probably get you in trouble, then the best option is get your own drone......death from above so they would never know what hit them or see it coming......just an unfortunate "accident"......maybe there is something to the smaller cheaper drones....

yes.....drones over my house pi^^ me off........it has happened only once....and that was one time too many.
 

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Some clown with a 50$ drone brings down a million dollar aircraft? Seems like moron-boy should be held responsible for
the helicopter's repair costs. Maybe a lifetime of crippling debt will help cure his inane, puerile stupidity.

The problem with these people isn't they are that idiotic. The real problem is we let them get away with it, instead of forcing them to deal with the consequences and repercussions.
 

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Some clown with a 50$ drone brings down a million dollar aircraft? Seems like moron-boy should be held responsible for
the helicopter's repair costs. Maybe a lifetime of crippling debt will help cure his inane, puerile stupidity.

The problem with these people isn't they are that idiotic. The real problem is we let them get away with it, instead of forcing them to deal with the consequences and repercussions.
No “$50” drone could cause the damage stated. I’m a fixed wing pilot and Helicopter (particularly helicopter cops) are drama queens in my ACTUAL experience. I am also a part 107 drone pilot. Flying a drone at 2400 hours is not only against regs it’s impossible to have situational awareness at altitude at night. Soooo, how many idiotic gun owners are there, how many stupid/illegal things do they “get away with”. It is NOT possible to obey EVERY LAW on the books in this country. So many gray area laws intentional enacted to selectively enforce.

My point is laws get broken EVERY second of every day. Does intent to commit a crime have merit? It used to! Today prosecutors are proving their worth prosecuting law abiding citizens how never intended to break a law. That is not the spirit of the law.

This drone pilot is likely not bright but let’s see what we find out about mr police helicopter pilots mistakes too. Maybe this was just a scratch on a fairing and a bent antenna. How many here caught a break from law enforcement? Me!


I don’t want to live in a society that enforces EVERY LAW!
 

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there is certainly a fair amount of drone anger.....folks around here do not like drones hovering over their property breeching their privacy......folks often complain about big brother is watching but being a nosey neighbor makes it personal.

and its about to get a lot worse on big brother's end.....the tax appraisal office is going to start to use drones to fly over people's property to get a better idea about future taxes.....seeing where they have been unable to look before. Fences, privacy horticulture, and distance will no longer be a problem....for the govt or a nosey neighbor.....or a total stranger.

but....since air space is not under the property owner's control...the only option left is to knock the offending drone down....since gun fire would probably get you in trouble, then the best option is get your own drone......death from above so they would never know what hit them or see it coming......just an unfortunate "accident"......maybe there is something to the smaller cheaper drones....

yes.....drones over my house pi^^ me off........it has happened only once....and that was one time too many.
Unless you live under surface controlled airspace, your out of luck. A manned aircraft could make on pylon turns over your property at will. The good news, Most drones don’t have a TELEPHOTO lens. Usually wide angle lens. Unless they are at 50 feet over your property the images would be way to pixelated to see what ever freaky things you do or have on your property. I don’t want drones flying over my property but Amazon and many other companies WILL be delivering products that way soon
 

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I don’t want to live in a society that enforces EVERY LAW!
The average American breaks the law a minimum of 9 times a day. It's because there are so many laws.
This isn't about "enforcing every law"

This is about Bozo Drone-O, out after dark, flying a drone, where he KNEW there were helicopters, and putting
other people's lives and property at risk, because he was being a selfish a*h**.
 

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The average American breaks the law a minimum of 9 times a day. It's because there are so many laws.
This isn't about "enforcing every law"

This is about Bozo Drone-O, out after dark, flying a drone, where he KNEW there were helicopters, and putting
other people's lives and property at risk, because he was being a selfish a*h**.
INTENT(knowing) he broke laws, let’s see it proved. Like I say he is obviously mostly at fault/foolish but let’s see what the actual damages were on the helicopter and the flight profile of the helicopter to see what regs they busted, THEN determine the degree of fault. If it’s a scratch and the PD end up being drama queens I want to know. Like I say the PD helicopter pilots in my local area whine/***** every time they fly about planes LEGALLY flying around them. Stay on the ground if you can’t handle activity in the airspace you fly.
 

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maybe its time to go ahead and get that silencer and set up a 22..........
that is if the feds do not come up with better regulations to discourage these peeping toms........

a hovering target is an easy target.......
 

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Someone shooting down a drone is in MUCH more trouble than the drone pilot.
In the eyes of the FAA drones are aircraft. Firing on a drone is no different than shooting at a Cessna, 737 or a helicopter.

I would strongly caution anyone against attempting it.

Folks may also think "Well if they can't recover their drone then I cant get in trouble for shooting it down" This is where those pesky flight logs come in to play. Those logs can tell the exact time and coordinates the drone fell from the sky.
The video footage may also tell the story of why it fell from the sky.

Most recreational drone pilots are not aware of the myriad of rules that apply to flying drones.
You also may fly a drone at night provided it has a lighted beacon that meets federal specifications.
Part 107 pilots must obtain a waiver to fly at night.
 
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