This Drone Encounter Possibly Led to a Helicopter Crash Landing in South Carolina

By Kehl Bayern / February 20, 2018

In what may be the first drone-related crash in the United States, a helicopter pilot and his student were forced to crash land after the tail of their chopper struck a tree while performing evasive maneuvers to avoid an encroaching drone aircraft.

The pilot of the Robinson R22 aircraft spotted a drone approaching their aircraft and took over controls from the student, leading to a series of unfortunate events that are now under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

In a response to the report by Bloomberg, NTSB representative Chris O’Neill said, “The NTSB is aware of the pilot’s report that he was maneuvering to avoid a drone, but the NTSB has not yet been able to independently verify that information.”

Image via Somchai Kongkamsri from

A Federal Aviation Administration statement confirmed that the helicopter crash landed but did not confirm a drone’s involvement. Using the pilot and student’s account, the purported drone seems to be a DJI Phantom as it was described as a small white drone. DJI for its part is cooperating with whatever authorities may be involved in the investigation.

This latest incident represents a growing trend with drones of late. We have reported on multiple instances here, typically involving drones in protected airspaces.

Governments for their part are looking toward implementing laws and registration processes to properly train and catalog drone owners and operators. It is hoped that regulation and education will curtail the incidents of drones appearing in protected airspaces and potentially causing catastrophic disasters in the process.

While drones have revolutionized everything from photography to potential transportation options, it goes without saying that the largely unregulated segment is ripe for abuse by people with bad intent, not to mention those who merely complicate matters out of negligence.

You can be certain this will not be the last drone-related incident.


About the author

Kehl Bayern

Kehl Bayern is our staff news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing. In terms of photography, he is interested in architecture and modern design. Kehl Bayern is also the author of science fiction thriller Animus Proxy. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts and studied politics at the University of Virginia and, later, Harvard University for graduate school. He spends much of his time traveling up and down the east coast of the United States. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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