Drone hits LAPD helicopter

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Getting more attention!

Phil Helsel
Fri, January 15, 2021, 8:45 AM


A Los Angeles man pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor count after his drone crashed into a police helicopter, prompting an emergency landing, federal prosecutors said.
It's believed to be the first criminal conviction for unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft in the nation, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California said in a statement.
Andrew Rene Hernandez, 22, of Hollywood, pleaded guilty to the single count in a plea agreement, according to court records.
He flew the drone just after midnight on Sept. 18 because he was curious after hearing a police helicopter and sirens, according to court documents.
The police helicopter with two officers inside was flying after a reported burglary at a nearby pharmacy, the documents say. The pilot saw the drone and tried to avoid it, but it hit the bottom of the helicopter. The chopper made an emergency landing at an airport.
A criminal complaint quotes an officer saying that if the drone had hit the helicopter's main rotor, it could have brought down the helicopter.
Hernandez faces up to a year in prison when he is sentenced April 12, but a plea agreement says that prosecutors will recommend reductions in federal sentencing guidelines.
A federal public defender representing Hernandez did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday night. A phone number for Hernandez could not immediately be found.
Hernandez admitted to investigators that he operated the drone, according to a criminal complaint. He said the drone is hard to see at night, he looked down for a few seconds at the controller, and when he looked up he saw it was "smacked" by the hovering helicopter, according to the document.
While the conviction may be the first for unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft in the U.S., it is not the first time someone has been charged with illegal acts involving a drone.
Drones have been used to drop drugs in prisons in Ohio and Michigan. And following a 2018 incident, a Georgia man was prosecuted under a drone registration law, in what had been called a first.
Public safety officials in Southern California have also warned about drone operations surrounding wildfires, which can delay or impact aerial firefighting operations.
 
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It is safe to assume that renegade drone pilot Mr. Hernandez is well and truly up the proverbial creek, without a paddle. His goose is cooked. His number is up, and he is pokey-bound for sure, set to serve a nice long stretch where the sun never shines.

This incident is a sobering reminder to all of us drone fliers, that we are but one wrong takeoff shy of serving time in the company of Big Bubba who holds court in Call Block D. With this horrific fate in mind, I just might trade in my drone for some fishing gear, but then again, maybe not he he.
 
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It is safe to assume that renegade drone pilot Mr. Hernandez is well and truly up the proverbial creek, without a paddle. His goose is cooked. His number is up, and he is pokey-bound for sure, set to serve a nice long stretch where the sun never shines.

This incident is a sobering reminder to all of us drone fliers, that we are but one wrong takeoff shy of serving time in the company of Big Bubba who holds court in Call Block D. With this horrific fate in mind, I just might trade in my drone for some fishing gear, but then again, maybe not he he.
Unlikely he will serve any time. They don't want more people in jail. In fact, a judge recently ordered the early release of prisoners (bad ones, too) to avoid over-crowding. He'll most likely get a slap on the wrist.
 
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Call me hard hearted if you like but I have absolutely no sympathy for Mr Hernandez. His actions were utterly reckless and he thoroughly deserves any punishment that he gets. He launched a drone, knowing that emergency services are operating in the area, in the dark after midnight - and then says in his defence that the drone was hard to see - no **** Sherlock!

I have no doubt that anyone committing a similar offence - endangerment of an aircraft - in the UK would serve time.

Drone flying is under the cosh with more and more restrictions heading our way. People doing idiotic things with drones is just another nail in the coffin.

All the best, Martin
 
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Perhaps he was less on the "drone pilot" mindset and more "cool toy with good camera". Which is unfortunate for him and our hobby.
They are fun, easy to fly, easy to obtain, inexpensive to purchase, none of which helps remind people how sensitive flying a drone can be.
 

HWB

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I admire Mr. Hernandez for flying at night. Not being able to see what you are flying and where you are flying takes a special ability.Like flying IFR blindfolded. And being able to get close enough to a helicopter in flight with all the rotor wash at night? That's just pure skill. Well done sir, well done.
 
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Idiot Drone flyer... Like he couldn't hear the Helicopter...
Throw the book at him.... No sympathy for Stupid...

Basic common sense is the key.

Jerry
 
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If imbecile amateurs still insist on flying without regard to any laws or regulations because they went to Costco or Bestbuy and bought a drone and just started flying the new FAA regulations will change again! this should have been a Felony!
 
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The only thing worse than being a meek sheep like me, would be heading up the river like Lone Wolf Hernandez.

Qualifying for pokey time would be a baaaaad development in my book, despite all my hours reviewing Chuck Norris movies in the comfort of my living room. I'll graze right where I am, thank you very much, because I happen to know the grass is NOT greener behind that prison wall, all things considered.
 
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Friday afternoon, I heard a very low chopper fly overhead. Being too lazy to crawl outta my recliner and go outside........I have FlightRadar24 installed on my iPad and it showed altitude below 400ft Starting in Gulfshores headed east. This particular flight did not display any info about the aircraft. Had we connected, would I have been charged? No destination was shown.......
 
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