A news helicopter for KABC-TV Channel 7 was struck Wednesday night by an object believed to be a drone while flying over downtown Los Angeles, the news outlet reported.
AIR7 HD was flying about a mile south of the 500 block of Ramirez Street when the crew heard a bang and felt a jolt about 7:15 p.m., according to the news outlet and the Los Angeles Police Department. The pilot made a precautionary emergency landing.
“We all looked at each other. Didn’t really know what it was,” KABC reporter Chris Cristi told the news outlet. “Just assumed it was a bird because that happens every once in a while. When we got on the ground, though, it was a different story.”
Cristi and the others aboard the chopper saw a hole in the helicopter’s tail.
“My pilot thought he saw a flash, and it looks like it might have been the green-and-red light from a drone that might have caught the corner of his eye,” Cristi said.
The LAPD deployed its own helicopter to survey the area and sent crews to look for debris on the ground, said Officer Jeff Lee, an LAPD spokesman.
It’s unclear whether anything — or anyone — was found.
The Federal Aviation Administration has now taken over the investigation.
“We’re aware of the station’s report and are sending an inspector out to examine the helicopter today,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Thursday morning.
In a tweet, the LAPD reminded people of the dangers of flying drones outside the parameters allowed by federal and local regulations.
“This could have been a disaster & we are glad everyone is okay.”
This could have been a disaster & we are glad everyone is okay. Be a responsible and legal unmanned aircraft operator...know & follow the rules. In addition to FAA regulations, there is an Ordinance here in LA: https://t.co/NIzqxJdia1 https://t.co/smjPTDz4s3— LAPD Communications Division (@911LAPD) December 5, 2019