Americas Multirotor

Two drones almost collide with NYPD chopper


By Larry Celona

Two drones nearly took out an NYPD chopper over the George Washington Bridge on Monday, and cops arrested the wayward crafts’ operators, law-enforcement sources told The Post.

The Aviation Unit helicopter was on patrol at around 12:15 a.m. when it had to swerve to avoid the small unmanned aircrafts, the sources said.

The NYPD pilots “observed flying object[s] at 2,000 feet in vicinity of the George Washington Bridge, then circling heading toward the helicopter,’’ a police report said.

“The officers were forced to change their course to avoid a collision.”

One source called it a “very dangerous” scenario.

“Although [drones] may only weigh a few pounds, that’s all birds weigh, and look what they did to the Sully Airbus,” the source said, referring to 2009’s “Miracle on the Hudson,” in which a bird strike forced US Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to crash-land a jetliner in the Hudson River.

The chopper tailed the drones north as they landed at the corner of Audubon and Fort George avenues, near Fort Tryon Park, at 12:35 a.m., sources said.

The chopper cops called NYPD Patrol, and officers were dispatched to nab the suspects.

Remy Castro, 23, who lives on nearby West 193rd Street, and Wilkins Mendoza, 34, of Post Road, were both arrested.

“It’s just a toy,” Castro said later at Manhattan Criminal Court, where they were arraigned on felony reckless endangerment charges and released without bail. “The copter came to us.”

Mendoza said the drone experiment was just fun and games.

“We were just playing with it,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

Their lawyer, Michael Kushner, said that the incident was not as serious as authorities allege.

“This vehicle can’t go above 300 feet,” Kushner said. “They did nothing more than fly a kite.”

But a friend of the pair, Jonathan Reyes, 27, said Castro told him they have flown them as high as 5,000 feet.

“When they first got them, everyone was going crazy and saying, ‘That’s some alien stuff!’ ” Reyes recalled.

Reyes said that Castro bought a drone two weeks ago and that Mendoza followed suit. They spent $500 to $700 apiece.

They have been having a wild time ever since, flying the drones around the neighborhood each night and posting video of the outings on Instagram.

“They’re fun. They’re a cool pair,” Reyes said of the men. “Everybody who sees [the drones] goes crazy!”

Additional reporting by Kathleen Cullitonand Kate Sheehy

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