Drones Outpacing Rules as Popularity Soars in New York



Jeremiah Johnson was flying his battery-powered drone above a park in Brooklyn on a recent weekend when he saw something in the distance.

Faster than you could say “speeding quadcopter,” Mr. Johnson, a design technologist, realized it was a small, remote-controlled aircraft just like his — and it was only about 150 feet away. “We were eyeing each other,” he said, “sizing each other up.”

Not long ago, drones were a relatively rare sight over New York City, usually piloted by photographers. But now drones are soaring as never before, deployed more and more by those who just love gadgets, as new models come on the market at lower and lower prices.

But their proliferation has also resulted in problems.

Two men were charged with reckless endangerment in July after the police said a drone they were flying in Upper Manhattan came within 800 feet of a New York Police Department helicopter near the George Washington Bridge.

Also in July, the Federal Aviation Administration opened an investigation into whether a drone sent aloft by the photographer at the wedding of Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, in Cold Spring, N.Y., broke rules on airspace restrictions. Mr. Maloney, who is on the House subcommittee that oversees the F.A.A., said last week that he had been “amazed” by the technology “but wasn’t up to date on the lack of regulations around it.”