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Two Men Charged In Operating Drones That Almost Crashed Into NYPD Helicopter

July 8, 2014 - Two men from Manhattan have been arrested on felony reckless endangerment charges on Monday after they operated a drone over the George Washington Bridge that came in close contact with a New York City police helicopter forcing the pilot to turn off course to avoid a collision. 

Wilkins Mendoza, 34, and Remy Castro, 23, were charged with operating an unman DGI Phantom 2 drone. The two remotely flew the DGI Phantom 2 near the Hudson River at about 800 feet just after midnight on Monday. 

New York City Detective Annette Markowski said the police helicopter spotted the drone and started observing the "flying objects at 2,000 feet in vicinity of the George Washington Bridge and at one point the drone flew directly for the police helicopter. 


The police helicopter which was operated by two police officers were on a routine patrol. The pilot followed the drone and watched it touch down at Fairview Ave and Fort George Hill in Inwood. Both Mendoza and Castro were arrested at the place the drones landed. Both drones were confiscated. 

Mendoza and Castro were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court. The defense attorney told the judge that the drones could not fly higher than 300 feet and they did nothing more than fly a kite. However, the prosecutor stated the drones were flying at 2,000 feet.

"It's just a toy" Castro reportedly said in court. It is illegal to fly a drone above 400 feet. However, many hobbiest have indicated the Phantom 2 is capable of flying at 2,000 feet. The judge released both men without bail.


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