A news helicopter cruising at 87 knots and 1,100 feet hit a drone last night over Los Angeles. The 2004 Airbus Helicopters AS350B2 (A-Star) was being operated by long-time electronic newsgathering aviation and charter firm Helinet for television station KABC. The drone punctured, dented, and scraped the leading edge of the right vertical stabilizer immediately forward of the tail rotor.
The collision occurred over downtown Los Angeles at approximately 7:15 p.m. local time. Chris Christi, the news reporter aboard, said the impact initially sounded like a bird strike. It did not affect the ability of the pilot to control the helicopter, which made a safe precautionary landing.
The Air Support Division of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) dispatched its own helicopter to the scene in an attempt to locate the drone pilot. LAPD subsequently issued a statement via Twitter reminding Angelinos to “be a responsible and legal unmanned aircraft operator” and to “know the rules.” Those include a local ordinance passed in 2015 that prohibits recreational drone flights that violate federal laws or that are operated in a “careless or reckless manner.” The still-unidentified drone apparently was operating in violation of a number of them, including flight after civil twilight and flight above 400 feet agl.