Drone Hits World Trade Center in NYC

Drone Hits World Trade Center in NYC

A DJI Air 2S drone slammed into 7 World Trade Center in New York City, triggering a massive response from the NYPD Counterterrorism Unit and the FBI.

The incident took place a week ago on Sunday, August 2. At approximately 5 pm, Adam Ismail, a tourist from Dallas, Texas, lost control of his quadcopter while attempting to make a video for an instagram post.

The amateur pilot was unaware of local restrictions that make it illegal to fly any aircraft (including drones) within NYC.

image credit: Adam Ismail

As indicated by his Instagram post, Adam used his $999 DJI 2S Drone to film a Quickshot Circle. Quickshots automate flight paths to create stunning, cinematic footage and are accessible at the click of a button.

The DJI Air 2S quadcopter is capable of filming 5 different Quickshot modes (Drone, Helix, Rocket, Circle, and Boomerang). These modes add a level of production value to the footage captured on the DJI 2S, and are very easy to use.

His drone performed the move, but it slammed into the side of the building, fell, and got stuck. The DJI Air 2S has front-facing obstacle avoidance sensors but not on the sides or back. It was likely traveling sideways at the time of impact.

Hoping to get it back, Adam turned himself in to the security personal at the front desk of the building. He was soon met by a swarm of counterterrorism officers.

The wrong place at the wrong time

Map of the World Trade Center Site today. Image credit:

Had his drone hit any other building in Lower Manhattan, Adam might have just walked away empty handed. But 7 WTC was one of the three buildings that collapsed following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. With the 20th anniversary of the attacks right around the corner, law enforcement is on high alert for anything out of the ordinary.

Although this situation at 7 WTC may seem like an overreaction, it is in the best interest of everyone to fully investigate the disturbance. Small enemy drones carrying explosives have been used to strike targets during military combat operations.

FAA Small UAS Rule (Part 107)

It is vital that new pilots understand and comply with the restrictions in place. Here is the full text of the FAA UAS Rule (Part 107) (link).

According to the US Federal Aviation Administration’s website (link).

To be certified to pilot a drone you must be:

  • At least 16 years old
  • Able to read, speak, write, and understand English
  • In a physical and mental condition to safely fly a drone
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam.

Requirements for Remote Pilot Certificate:

  • Must be easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations
  • Certificate holders must complete an online recurrent training every 24 calendar months to maintain aeronautical knowledge recency

Amateur pilots are permitted to fly drones for recreation purposes. However, they’re still required to register their drones with the FAA and operate in accordance with all laws.

DJI Air 2S and DJI Flysafe

image credit: DJI

DJI has taken steps to educate new pilots about restrictions through their DJI Flysafe program. They have also implemented notifications to warn pilots when their drones approach a no fly zone within the app.

Adam was piloting his drone in restricted airspace but for some reason the DJI app did not indicate it. DJI also maintains a Geo Zone Map on their website that visually lays out all known restricted areas.

But users are still “responsible for checking official sources and determining what laws or regulations might apply to his or her flight”.

image credit: Adam Ismail

After 6 hours of questioning, they released Adam and handed him a misdemeanor ticket for violating airspace laws. The drone remains stuck and unretrievable.

Fortunately, Adam does participate in the DJI Care Refresh program which covers some of the cost to replace the lost drone.

Be sure to check out our review of the DJI Air 2S quadcopter (link). Just remember to educate yourself on all safety requirements before taking to the skies.

What do you think about the ever changing legal requirements for drone pilots? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured image credit: Photo by Siegfried Poepperl from Pexels


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