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.  

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • "Whatever happened to the helicopter pilot's legal obligation to "see and avoid"?"

    According to the article, that is what he did.   But we all have an obligation to drive defensively on the highway but that doesn't mean we should allow unlicensed people to drive on the same road.

  • Bottom line these people deserve what they get. They were certainly doing something they did not have permission to do and endangered others doing it.  As far as this NYPD pilot goes I would say if he felt he was in some sort of jeopardy or "could of been" (again lots of could of stuff) then I would take his word.   This is the problem, people going out and doing this sort of thing and this is what has given the FAA and others the reason to do what they just did with a recent rule proposal.  Everyone that's flying R.C. FPV or whatever needs to voice there opinions with real world alternatives on the FAA site and also promote this UAV/FPV/RC stuff in a positive light.

  • Whatever happened to the helicopter pilot's legal obligation to "see and avoid"?

  • And reserving judgement as to wether it was justified or not. Courts will take care of that.

  • Was commenting about the original story of the thread,  Washington Bridge guys: single felony count of Class D reckless endangerment

  • John - Who got the reckless endangerment charge? Was it the guy chased by the police helicopter at the George Washington Bridge or the guy harassed by the police helicopter at the Great Falls?
  • The "not so bad news", if I can call it that, is that charges were "reckless endangerment". No need for the FAA nor invoking its inexistant/un-enforceable rules ...

  • Very Recently, those in charge of our National Park Service issued a No drones anywhere directive.

    However, there were still many aspects of it that were open to interpretation by the authority in charge of each Park.

    And they were each directed to come up with and publish their own rules.

    Who knows where this park is in this process.

    It is a great shame that they have chosen to interpret this as a blanket ban at this particular Park, because it is one of the very best ones that the Public could benefit from seeing videos of.

    Unfortunately the American National Park Service has always been kind of a tyrant and definitely some of the rangers are control freaks.

  • The whole story looks to me like a soap opera or too much smoke for nothing. There is a certain fear within the authorities and as usual they fear everything which they don't understand. The truth is that small toys which we call drones are not yet regulated, at least not in the way that some agency is responsible for collecting money for registration and for giving licenses for operating a remotely controlled toy. I expect that they will try to regulate the usage of remotely operated flying things and probably they will try to issue a kind of certification in a sense that the operator is listed in some register and that he is aware of what he is doing also meaning that he is liable in case of accident. Probably something like the radio amateur license will be issues after completing a course. This post here made me look in google what are the regulations here in EU and I see that basically only EASA tried to create a regulation proposal but this is targeting any flying vehicles over 150 kg, so the smaller ones are left within the responsibility of every individual country. So in short they will try to regulate any potential commercial usage, the rest is not interesting because they cannot make money out of it. It was written there that USA authorities are asking EASA for support for creating similar regulations for USA because EU is ahead in this process. Funny, isn't it?

  • I fly everything, helis, quads, planes, both fpv and LOS... I would NEVER fly anywhere close to people, all these videos are showing exactly that... the landing of that quad was right next to people even if the flight was mostly not.  I also drive a car and ride bikes, both of those are abused by people as well.  This hobby is going to get regulated, its inevitable, people need to take this hobby out of cities and in areas where people are present and take it to locations that present little risk to others.  And if you cant fly in areas like that, then you cant participate in the hobby.  I have a Zephyr II and live in the desert but its tough to find a site that I can fly over the desert but have a good place to land.  So most of the time I fly something smaller.  I would NEVER fly in a city and my concern in populated areas is that interference exists.  I have had failsafe on my 2.4 radio due to a boosted wireless signal and metal at 100m.

This reply was deleted.