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Drone hits Army chopper — See how much of NJ is off limits to these flying toys

LINDEN — An Army Black Hawk helicopter made an emergency landing on Thursday after being hit by an civilian drone.

A small drone with eight rotors, capable of working underwater, flies during a demonstration Wednesday, June 22, 2016, in Lower Township, N.J. Routine commercial use of small drones was cleared for takeoff by the Obama administration Tuesday, June 21, 2016, after years of struggling to write rules that would both protect public safety and free the benefits of a new technology. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
A small drone with eight rotors, (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

A UA60 Army Black Hawk helicopter was struck while flying over the Staten Island neighborhood of Midland Beach as part of the U.N. General Assembly patrol, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne told the New York Post.

The spokesman said the blade and a window were damaged.

Unmanned drones are growing in popularity and contributing to some trouble, especially in the crowded skies over New Jersey. The FAA said it gets around 100 reports every month from across the country. Sixty-four incidents were reported by flights in and out airports in New Jersey last year, according to the most recent report on the FAA’s website. In some cases, the federal Department of Homeland Security was notified.

Users who fly their drones for their business or for any public agency are required to register their flying devices with the FAA.

Recreational drones are regulated by federal rules that limit or prohibit flights in certain areas. Restricted areas include 5-mile radiuses from any regional airport. Recreational users are supposed to notify nearby airports when they intend to fly.

In some places, there are local or state restrictions on drones.

Between the airport restrictions, the temporary flight restrictions put in place whenever President Donald Trump spends time in Bedminster, security restrictions around New York, and sporting events at stadiums, the airspace in North Jersey is almost entirely off limits.

Also off-limits are national parks, wildfires and emergency response situations, and the vicinity of military areas such as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Below, in the screen grab from the Know Before You Fly map, the red circles are temporary restricted air space. Yellow circles are 5-mile radiuses from an airport. Gray circles are sporting events at stadiums. Blue lines delineate military airspace. The yellow slashes are 5-mile radiuses around heliports, which caution drone operators to be alert to helicopter traffic.

(KnowBeforeYouFly.org)
(KnowBeforeYouFly.org)

The FAA has a free app — B4UFLY — that lets drone users see whether they are in restricted airspace.

Nearly all of North Jersey and Staten Island this weekend is blanketed by restricted airspace because of a temporary flight restriction from Friday to Sunday for the president and heightened security following the 9/11 anniversary this month.

Among the safety guidelines for flying drones:

  • Fly below 400 feet
  • Fly within sight of the drone
  • Never fly over groups of people or stadiums
  • Never fly under the influence

A United Airlines flight last July spotted a drone two miles south of Newark Liberty International Airport on approach to the airport.

Among the reported incidents:

  • A pilot of a small plane had to descend 200 feet on approach to Lakewood on Dec. 8 when he saw a small drone rise out of a body of water in Spring Lake an fly toward his plane. The drone could only been seen with special night goggles, which the pilots were wearing.
  • On Oct. 9, 2016, a drone was reported 300 feet from a jet heading for Newark and was also seen from the ground by a Port Authority police officer.
  • The pilot of a small plane landing at the airport in Woodstown was rattled when he saw what was described as a “55 gallon drum” off his left wing. “It was very unnerving as he didn’t know what direction the Unmanned Aircraft Sighting was traveling,” according to an incident summary by the FAA.
  • A pilot reported being “buzzed” by a helicopter drone at 11,000 feet near Newark

Flying a drone near an airplane, helicopters and airports is illegal and violators are subject to fines, criminal charges and possible jail.

“The FAA has levied civil penalties for a number of unauthorized flights in various parts of the country, and has many open enforcement cases,” according to its website.

Airspace Map

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

Sergio Bichao contributed to this report.

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