by Jen Boyer
A Robinson R22 helicopter was struck Monday night by an object while flying south through Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles. Operated as a cross-country training flight by L.A. Helicopters of Long Beach, Calif., the aircraft sustained severe damage to the windscreen when it was struck at 2,000 feet above sea level (800 feet above ground level) at about 7:15 p.m. The aircraft immediately diverted to Van Nuys Airport for an emergency landing. The flight instructor, who occupied the left seat, sustained cuts on his hands and knees from the shattered Plexiglas. The pilots were otherwise unharmed.
“Neither of the pilots saw the object — it had no lights,” said Guillaume Maillet, chief pilot of L.A. Helicopters. “We think it was a drone. After talking to them, from what I see from the extensive damage, and the fact that there are no feathers or blood to indicate a bird strike, it had to be a drone.”