Drone Nearly Collides With NYPD Helicopter; Brooklyn Man Arrested For Reckless Endangerment

A screenshot of the remote-controlled DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter in flight.

A screenshot of the remote-controlled DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter in flight.  (YouTube)

A New York City man is under arrest after he flew a drone a little too close to an Police Department police helicopter hovering over a Brooklyn street, nearly taking the chopper down.

Isaac Rosa, 34, was arrested for illegally operating a DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter drone in New York City air space and charged with reckless endangerment and obstructing governmental administration. Rosa flew his remote-controlled drone mounted with a GoPro camera about 50 feet from the police department helicopter, forcing the pilot to veer suddenly, officials say.

“These drones pose a safety threat to aircraft and the people on board because the pilots do not know they are in their flight pattern,” a law enforcement source told the New York Post.

An unapologetic Rosa was arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court and released on $1,500 bail, after which he denied that flying the drone was against the law.

“I am very disappointed that they are trying to make an example out of me,” Rosa said. “At the end of the day, this is not an illegal activity.”

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Unfortunately for Rosa, he doesn’t seem to have a solid grasp on the rules imposed on drones by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Its “model aircraft” guidelines state that the tiny remote-controlled machines must not interfere with manned aircraft or fly within five miles of an airport without prior notification.

Rosa’s late-night aerial caper and a previous flight over Coney Island and the Wonder Wheel, which he posted video of on Facebook, could land him in even more trouble.

“The FAA is investigating a report that a small, unmanned aircraft system was flying approximately five miles south of La Guardia Airport at 12:45 a.m. today,” the agency told the Post in a statement.

Drones have become a frequent presence in New York City skies and a major nuisance to law enforcement in the city.

In July, Remy Castro, 23, and Wilkins Mendoza, 34, were arrested when they allegedly flew a drone too close to an NYPD helicopter near the George Washington Bridge.

Earlier this month, 34-year-old Daniel Feighery was taken into custody after he flew his drone too close to a U.S. Open event in Queens. Unmanned aircraft have also been spotted hovering over popular tourist destinations like Times Square and Citi Field, home to the New York Mets.

New York City is the "Wild West" for drone activity, according to Sen. Charles Schumer, who called on federal officials in August to speed up regulations for the tiny aircraft. Schumer stated that drones pose a threat to both people’s safety as well as their privacy and have interfered with airspace for more traditional flying objects.

Drones like the $800, 2-pound Phantom 2 used by Rosa bear little resemblance to the armed Predator drones used by the military to attack terrorists and take surveillance footage. The use of the civilian version, however, has skyrocketed in recent years. Both hobbyists and business owners favor loosening the laws around where one can and cannot fly unmanned aircraft.

The FAA recently approved a new range for the Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, providing researchers with around 290 flying days a year – over mountains, high deserts, agricultural terrain, coastlines and the Gulf of Mexico and other virtually unpopulated regions.

“South Texas meets a lot of the criteria for the FAA,” Ron George, the senior research development officer at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi told Fox News Latino. “It’s sparsely populated, it’s got a lot of different geographical features … and one of the criteria for the FAA is a lot of diversity in geographical features.”

Texas is among six states where the FAA is allowing test sites for drones, and the university has a number of sites throughout the state. The testing is seen as a critical step in a blossoming industry that could be worth billions of dollars and result in thousands of unmanned aircraft working in commercial and research applications.

“The industry is demanding that drones are allowed in the air for business purposes,” George said. “Oil and gas companies want to survey their pipelines ... agriculture wants to use unmanned aircraft as well."

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