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A drone collided with a news helicopter over Los Angeles

ABC News Helicopter (J o/WikiCommons)

A news chopper believed to have been damaged by a drone made an unplanned landing in the city Wednesday, according to ABC News, which owns the downed helicopter.

The Los Angeles Police Department said “disaster” was averted when the AIR7 HD aircraft — flying near downtown L.A. at 7:15 p.m. — safely made what the network called a “precautionary landing” after the midair collision. The chopper was flying at 1,100 feet, which is 700 feet over the altitude that drones are legally allowed to reach.

“We were flying just east of downtown LA and we heard this pop, a loud bang,” pilot and reporter Chris Cristi said. “We felt it, we heard it. We all looked at each other. Didn’t really know what it was.”

Cristi and his crew initially thought they may have run into a bird. It wasn’t until the chopper landed that the aerial news crew was better able to evaluate the damage. They think it’s unlikely the unidentified flying object they encountered has a beak and feathers. ABC called the damage “substantial.”

“It was a scary couple of minutes,” Cristi said.

Grateful no one was injured, the LAPD reminded drone operators to be mindful of city ordinances governing unmanned aircraft.

“This could have been a disaster & we are glad everyone is okay,” they wrote. “Be a responsible and legal unmanned aircraft operator…know & follow the rules,” they tweeted.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s first report of a drone hitting a manned aircraft happened off the coast of Staten Island in 2017 and involved a U.S. Army Sikorsky Black Hawk. That military chopper was hit by a DJI Phantom 4 drone while providing security for the United Nations General Assembly, according to Forbes. An investigation reportedly found the drone operator was at fault for that crash, which dented one of the Black Hawk’s blades and destroyed the Phantom 4.


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