A 22-year-old drone operator who wanted to “see what was going on” could face a one-year jail term after his aircraft hit a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter Sept. 18. According to Fox News, Andrew Rene Hernandez’s drone hit the fuselage of the chopper, prompting an emergency landing but no injuries. It’s not clear if the aircraft was damaged but a car was hit by the falling drone. Police recovered the wreckage and checked the video card, which had nice clear images of the owner. He was arrested by the FBI last Thursday and charged with one count of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, a federal misdemeanor offense with a maximum one-year sentence. There was no suggestion the collision was intentional.
The helicopter was responding to a call from officers on the ground investigating the burglary of a drug store when the incident occurred. Federal officers told the court the incident could have been much worse. “If the drone had struck the helicopter’s main rotor instead of the fuselage, it could have brought the helicopter down,” according to the complaint. Hernandez admitted to flying the drone.