Close Encounter of the DRONE Kind

- By Hal Eisner:

Another close encounter with a drone, but this time an LAPD Helicopter hovering over a crime scene in Hollywood. 

Police say it happened around 11:55pm Thursday night. And, shortly after police handcuffed the man who was operating the unmanned aerial vehicle.The suspect, who has not been identified, told police he wanted some video of a police operation that was going on in the Hollywood area, but didn’t realize a police helicopter was above.

The encounter was so close, Sgt. Barry Montgomery says, the chopper pilot had to take evasive action. That was a first for the LAPD, says Montgomery who adds it was very dangerous adding “anytime you’re in an airship and a drone enters your airspace, evasive action can cause anything to happen.”

For this story I teamed up with Rick Dickert who spends his day in SkyFOX reporting from the air. "Fortunately, we haven’t had any close encounters with drones up here,” Rick says. He's quite aware, though, of the danger "not only to pilots and possibly passengers but to people below if God forbid there is some horrific impact.”

The latest FAA proposal under consideration has drones flying no higher than 500 feet at speeds, no faster at 100 miles per hour, and those drones can’t weigh any more than 55 pounds. Also, a drone operator would have to be at least 17-years-old.

Meanwhile, as the FAA studies the issue both it and the LAPD are investigating the Hollywood drone encounter and will decide, along with the City Attorney or the DA, if the suspect should face charges and what charges.

In the meantime, he has been released.

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