Man accused of flying drone in path of CMPD helicopter

Eyewitness News Midday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officials said they will arrest drone pilots if their drones fly near the police helicopter Snoopy.

Their chopper had a close call with drone around 1 a.m. on Thursday.

Officers were pursuing someone though the streets of east Charlotte when they saw a drone take to the sky and fly close to the helicopter.

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"This drone could have caused the helicopter to crash," Lt. Robert Whitley, who leads the CMPD Aviation Unit said.

Investigators said Christopher Baucom, 26, was listening to police scanners and intentionally launched his drone to videotape the police chopper.

Charlotte police said Baucom initially resisted landing the drone because he didn't think he was doing anything wrong.

"This is a crime,” Whitley said. “It's a state statute. The individual was charge and the drone was confiscated."

The CMPD pilots said they had to take immediate action to avoid a mid-air collision with the drone that day.

Chopper 9 pilot Andy Holt said "a drone strike of any size on an aircraft is very serious. It can do a lot of damage very quickly. These are serious things, especially at night with limited visibility.”

The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits drones from flying at night at any altitude.

The accused drone pilot is a convicted felon with a long list of theft of drug charges.

Baucom was arrested and charged with interference with manned aircraft by unmanned aircraft system and resist.

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