First off these guys were in the wrong and got caught, I am not defending the stupidity of flying close to an aircraft. However, to create a story with a headline "nearly hit" misleading most. Drones can be dangerous if flown next to aircraft. This is theoretically possible and flyers should stay away to avoid being arrested or at fault for a death!! 

Original story with photos here:


TWO MANHATTAN men were arrested early Monday after they piloted a drone close to the George Washington Bridge and nearly struck an NYPD helicopter, police sources said.

Wilkins Mendoza, 34, and Remy Castro, 23, were remotely piloting a DGI Phantom 2 drone as it flew near the Hudson River crossing, at about 800 feet in the air, around midnight, the sources said. An NYPD helicopter crew spotted the drone and observed the unmanned aircraft as it circled the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge over the Harlem River about 12:20 a.m., the sources said.

At one point, the NYPD helicopter pilot had to veer off course to avoid being struck by the drone, the sources said.

The helicopter crew followed the drone and watched it touch down at Fairview Ave. and Fort George Hill in Inwood.

Mendoza and Castro, both of Inwood, were arrested at the landing zone at 12:34 a.m., and police also recovered a second drone, the sources said.

Both men were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on a single felony count of Class D reckless endangerment, a charge stemming from the fact the pilot said he felt the drone endangered the NYPD helicopter.

But a prosecutor requested the men be released without bail, and a judge agreed.

A prosecutor told the judge that police reported the drone as having flown 2,000 feet in the air, but a defense attorney said the model used can only fly at heights of 300 feet.  

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  • Agreed with @Ben Dellar about staying calm - we don't have all the facts, only differing stories.  Just because an account is printed, doesn't mean it's full and accurate.

    It's fair to say that IF they chose to fly close to an aircraft they were way out of line, but keep that "if" in there.

    It might also be fair to say that IF the police pilot was actually following a drone which was trying to avoid the helicopter (as asserted in the video posted by Gary above), then the pilot may be more responsible for the "near hit" if he flew too close to the drone and had to back off.

    Which is true?  We don't know.  And no, I would not just accept the word of the police pilot, who is of course a human who will CYA, any more than I simply accept the account from the drone operators (or asserted witness).

    So let's qualify any judgement statements with the appropriate IF's, as we don't really know the facts.

  • Darrell Burkey:"Well, watching them take off in the middle of a street over traffic totally convinced me that they aware of how to fly safely."

    Me too!

  • I think they should be arrested and fined for flying in a populated area in the above vid.  Not for flying near a bridge at midnight.

  • Well, watching them take off in the middle of a street over traffic totally convinced me that they aware of how to fly safely.

  • The video says they weren't even by the GW bridge, very interesting perspective, thank you for this Gary!

  • Moderator

  • 100KM

    I would advocate a bit of calm. Neither side here has actually presented any evidence other then talk and we can't know the full circumstances. As with Andrew's point, I am uncomfortable with the automatic assumption of wrongdoing in these cases. There is no requirement to "inform authorities" or "seek permission" for most of these sorts of flights (if operated responsibly) and the police helicopter has an equal responsibility to see and avoid as the drone operators. The police narrative actually suggests they actually "saw and went for a look" instead of avoiding. 

  • Andrew, true and that is a good comparison.

  • Rick, I can ride a bicycle "unlicensed" on the road.  All this forelock-tugging to "authorities" makes me despair at the direction and future of humanity...

  • The simple solution to all of these events is to seek permission first. It's common sense. If you are going to do something like flying close to a bridge then the authorities and the public should know about it beforehand. Then everyone is on the same page and incidents like this can be avoided. Of course, we all know why people don't inform authorities first. They know that they will be told not to fly there. People like this know what they are doing is not a good idea. They just aren't smart enough to let that stop them.

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