A news helicopter for a Los Angeles news station was forced to make an emergency landing Wednesday evening after an object struck the vehicle's tail.
KABC's Air7 HD chopper was flying east over downtown L.A. at around 1,100 feet when it was struck in midair by what the crew initially believed was a bird strike. ABC 7 reporter Chris Christi, who was on board the chopper when the strike occurred, told the station the crew reported hearing a pop, then a loud bang at around 7:15 p.m.
"We felt it, we heard it and we all looked at each other; didn't really know what it was," ABC7 reporter Chris Cristi told the station. "We felt it, we heard it and we all looked at each other; didn't really know what it was."
The pilot made a precautionary emergency landing and when they went to examine the aircraft, they discovered that an object, which
once they safely landed, an inspection found that the object, which was believed to be a drone, had ripped through the tail of the helicopter, leaving dents and other scratches in other spots on the aircraft.
The pilot reported seeing a flash of light, which could have been the drone's green and red navigational lights.
The Federal Aviation Administration has taken over the investigation.
"This could have been a disaster & we are glad everyone is okay. Be a responsible and legal unmanned aircraft operator...know & follow the rules," the LAPD tweeted.
The LAPD launched an official investigation of the incident, which has been taken over by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Recreational drones are normally prohibited from flying above 400 feet in airspace where air traffic control is absent. Drones are also banned from flying in controlled airspace near airports.
"It was a scary couple of minutes not knowing what happened," Cristi said. "But it feels great to be back on the ground."