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Medical Helicopter Escapes Close Call with Drone

DENTON, Texas — A medical helicopter had a close and nearly collided with a drone Monday night.

The helicopter was en route to picking up a patient when the incident occurred.

“It went right past the aircraft, CareFlite Chief Executive Officer Jim Swartz told NBC DFW. “I would say it was very close. We were lucky nothing happened.”

Swartz said the incident happened so quickly that the pilot did not have time to take evasive action.

“I’m not sure the people who fly these drones know the risk they’re putting airplanes and helicopters in,” Swartz said. “They’re putting them at terrible risk.”

The incident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration by the pilot on the flight.

FAA regulations prohibit drones from flying over 400 feet under any circumstances, and by law must notify control towers if they are within five miles of an airport.

An FAA spokesman said the agency is investigating.

CareFlite was established in 1979 and operates six helicopters in North Texas.

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