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Virginia Man Arrested After Wind Whips Drone Into Barclays HQ

Almost all of NYC is drone-free zone.
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Almost all of NYC is drone-free zone. Scott Lynch / Gothamist

Travel conditions improved dramatically across the tri-state area after last Thursday's microblizzard (by which I mean three to six inches of snow slush) subsided, but still, the skies were not safe for the city's illicit drone pilots. On Friday, police arrested 27-year-old Steven Funes after a rogue wind gusted his drone into the side of Barclays headquarters in Midtown. The building sustained no injuries in the crash, but unfortunately for Funes, it is almost always illegal to fly a drone in New York City.

Funes, a resident of Virginia, may not have known he was droning illegally when he launched the gadget from the 21st floor of the Executive Plaza Hotel on 51st Street in Midtown West. He reportedly had things under control until around 4:30 p.m., when a strong breeze swept up his flying machine and sent it hurtling into an 8th floor balcony on the Barclays building at 745 7th Avenue. Security guards scooped up the wreckage and alerted authorities, according to the NYPD.

Funes showed up some hours later, around 8 p.m., to retrieve whatever remained of his drone, at which point the arresting officer subsequently "apprehended" him and took him into custody for having violated administrative code 10-126 C. That particular ordinance pertains to "Avigation In and Over the City," and bars the piloting of crafts and "contrivances" not intended as safety equipment. (I.e., you could still parachute over NYC in the case of an impending crash or catastrophe.) Violating the code qualifies as a misdemeanor, and police issued Funes a desk appearance ticket, meaning he must soon make a trip back to the city for a court appearance.

According to CBS 2, which sent a reporter on a helicopter ride-along with members of the NYPD's Aviation Unit—responsible for policing drone infractions—only five local parks allow enthusiasts to fly their sky zoomers. Unauthorized drone use can reportedly whip up a dangerous level of chaos. Drones cause interference with air traffic and have smashed into the Empire State Building: "People could definitely die," NYPD Aviation Unit pilot Lt. Richard Knoeller told the outlet. "If it [a drone] hits the aircraft at the right time, it's a perfect storm."

No humans or corporate offices were harmed in this particular incident, however.

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