3D Robotics

Phantom pilot arrested

The pilot of the Phantom that crashed on a Manhattan street earlier this month has been arrested, ABC reports:

David Zablidowsky of Brooklyn has been charged with "Reckless Endangerment" for allegedly losing control of a helicopter drone at "an unreasonable height creating a substantial risk of serious physical injury". 

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  • I'm sure glad the Sydney incident was perpetrated by a tourist. We were hoping our idiots hadn't notice DJIs off the shelf weapons.

    Thanks Brendan for the news clip.

  • Classic idiot. I fly over heavily populated areas but I'm not dumb enough to have something fall off my flying object lol. Hasn't happened in 10 years.

  • Have you seen the Sydney video footage yet?  The Phantom bouncing off more urban objects and continuing to fly.  Close call there.  The report says the police returned it to him.



  • @Shyam: feel obligated to make something very clear straight off the bat that is the ONLY thing I can say "I hear" just so happens to speak volumes about his "seasoned skill level" of this pilot.

    From The moment the video begins and the audio presents us with a horribly tuned machine, which I am telling you in a nice way instead of a snobby or critical way, which, in my experience in reading these forums regularly, probably would've occurred in some form of condescendin tone had I not chimed in first "killing with kindness", nice waivers(that sort of firing at the n00bs probably would've been substantiated in this case, but that's a nonissue so read on my inexperienced friend)

    Just the audio track alone is more than sufficient evidence, to me, that whomever was at the Control this flying machine had no clue what they were doing and should not of been flying, let alone fly FPV over that area (to his credit at least the majority of the surface was covered by just sand and few industrial buildings with no pedestrians)and attempting to control a camera all at once.

    When I heard the machine start up and heard the motors pulsing so violently, I knew this person had never tuned (successfully, at least) a set of PIDs in their lives, or maybe had tinkered with no clue what resulting behavior the changes were going to have on his vehicle--and just played with numbers and didn't get even close to being in tune enough for anything more than a tied down ignition and fine tuning job or at most a hover while wearing a hockey goalie's uniform. I could predict that ending before it got 10!feet from his brainless handheld takeoff --which is another shining indicator of inexperienced recklessness (unless you are part of that German dodecacopter group whose not including a year was purposely done in exchange for saving weight while they flew gracefully around the RED Epic camera maybe a year or two ago by now, though they were one of the first).

    Anyway, as you obtain experience hands on, I hope you are able to identify scary situations before they occur simply by listening to the way the engines sound for you and trying to fly. Good luck, you have a ways to go, but keep your head up, cuz with enough practice and help from the wonderfully helpful community here, you'll eventually get there, but you have a lot to learn clearly, what's not a bad thing, just the reality.

    Sorry if I sound negative, I'm sure some others might've stunned that much more wrathfully, depending on their mood.

    Have a wonderful weekend.
  • @ Shyam: "A nice crash in autonomous mode with hexa by a seasoned pilot, I hear.."

    At least it didn't fail immediately after the hand launch and do one of those death-rolls into the launcher's face. Wherever this pilot got his "seasoning"  it sure didn't include basic safety training.

  •  @ ICOBJ "Anyone who really wanted a high quality drone to take on a risky mission like this wouldn't use a phantom or similar." 

    Sorry I have a low tolerance for BS disparaging remarks about a beautifully engineered quad like the Phantom.  I have dissembled an entire Phantom, each piece right down to board level, and inspected all the ICs with a loop.

     The engineering is the best I have seen of the genre period.  The Naza is a beautiful assembly with the sensors properly isolated to prevent vibration distortions and it's 1/4 the size of APM.

    I am doing quite well flying two daily as a service and I am very confident in their capabilities.  The exoskeleton frame design is incredibly resilient and sturdy.  Phantoms are definitely not toys.

  • A nice crash in autonomous mode with hexa by a seasoned pilot, I hear..


  • Brendan...There is a lot going on in that article, but let me say this first. We are the cyclist in this story. I have never lived in NYC, but I have been there enough to know cyclists are pretty low on the food chain, and seen as a nuisance. Also, many cyclists dodge traffic laws which they are supposed to follow. Does that warrant them being the apparent intentional target of a cab driver? Nope. But, I bet the first guy who shoots someone flying a drone gets people saying the pilot deserved it, and to let the shooter go. Opinions are huge in how prosecution is handled.

    Which brings us back to the topic of this post. Someone needed to be made a scapegoat. The guy who did the stupid flying deserved being charged with reckless endangerment, as did the cab driver in the article. But, it takes time and money to charge and prosecute someone. The Phantom pilot sets an example. The driver could have set an example too, but for whatever reason, the charges were not brought. Both should be charged, but both didn't. 

    The family intends to sue. Good! There should be civil recourse. But, I can tell you the people trying to help may have done as much damage as the driver. Tourniquets are a last option in the event of someone bleeding to death, and once applied, almost always lead to amputation below the application point. You are literally killing a part of the body to save the whole. Loss of life vs. loss of limb makes the decision easy for professionals who can assess the situation. Often though, other options are first attempted. Good Samaritans may not know when and when not to apply such extreme measures, and so this woman may not have had to lose her leg. There are Good Samaritan laws in this country though which keep those trying to help protected. Professionals could face civil or legal actions. I work in the medical field. I have seen it happen.

    That part about the medical aspect may seem like a tangent, but it is not. Benefit of the doubt is legally given to those legitimately trying to help, but not to the professional. As there is no, "professional drone pilot," yet, the guy with 20 years RC experience is lumped in with the rich kid with a new toy just the same. Legally, and in the format of public opinion. This means everyone has a chance to either make us look good, or bad. Denouncing and distancing ourselves from those who do stupid stuff like fly over Manhattan will help in the long run. It makes the hobby as a whole look more, "professional." 

  • Compare and contrast:

    November 14, 2013   New York Times

    No Charges Against Cabby in Crash Injuring Tourist   By PATRICK McGEEHAN  

    No charges will be filed against the cabdriver who crashed onto a pedestrian plaza in Midtown Manhattan in August and pinned a British tourist, severing her left leg just below the knee, prosecutors said on Thursday.

    The office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said that after an investigation of two months, it had decided that the driver, Faysal Himon, would not be charged with a crime. Mr. Himon’s license was suspended for 30 days after the crash, on Aug. 20, for prior violations, but he has been cleared to drive since late September, according to the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.

    Daniel G. P. Marchese, a lawyer representing the family of the injured woman, Sian Green, said that the family was shocked and disappointed by the decision. But he said that it would not preclude the Greens from suing the driver, his cab company or the taxi commission, among others.

    Mr. Marchese said that based on his knowledge of the evidence gathered, he believed Mr. Himon had intended to ram his cab into a cyclist, who, the driver said, had cut him off in late-morning traffic at the intersection of 49th Street and Avenue of the Americas. Mr. Marchese said that after Mr. Himon braked to a sudden halt, his cab rocked back, then lurched toward the cyclist, Kenneth Olivo.

    The cab jumped the curb and hit Ms. Green, who was sitting on a ledge, holding hot dogs just bought from a sidewalk cart. When her screams pierced the Midtown noise, an assortment of people, including a plumber, the owner of a pizza truck and other food vendors, rushed to apply a tourniquet and ice to Ms. Green’s wound.

    Along with the loss of half a leg, Ms. Green, who lives in Leicester, England, sustained nerve damage to her right leg and a traumatic brain injury, Mr. Marchese said. Now 24, she is taking college classes but has not returned to work since the crash, he said.

    Mr. Himon could not be reached for comment. But Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, issued a statement calling the crash a “tragic accident” and suggesting that the appropriate response would be stricter regulation of cyclists.

    “We are very pleased that the district attorney recognizes Mr. Himon’s innocence, and our thoughts and prayers remain with Ms. Green and her family as she continues to recover from her injuries,” Mr. Mateo said.

    To charge Mr. Himon, prosecutors would have had to show that he intended to crash into Mr. Olivo, Mr. Marchese said. But they told Mr. Marchese that they did not feel they had sufficient evidence of such malice, he said.

    Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for Mr. Vance, said the investigation had been thorough.

    “In making this determination, prosecutors who are specially trained in vehicular crimes reviewed all available evidence and took into consideration relevant sections of the state’s vehicle and traffic laws,” Ms. Vollero said in a statement. That evidence included surveillance videos from the scene, tapes of calls to 911 and data from the cab’s “black box,” she said.

    The decision not to charge Mr. Himon left some advocates for pedestrian and bike safety dismayed.

    “This decision has frightening implications,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Drivers have the most responsibility, because people behind the wheel of one-ton vehicles have the greatest capacity to do harm to others. The law should acknowledge that fact.”

    Mr. Marchese said he would attempt to obtain the prosecutors’ file on the investigation under a Freedom of Information request while his clients considered whether to file any civil suits. He said they had at least a year to make that decision.

  • "Get the license and fly free in the public zone"

    What kind of license are you referring? 

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