FAA looks into low-flying helicopter at beach

SAN DIEGO - Visitors to a La Jolla beach got a scare last Friday when a helicopter hovered precariously low above the waves.

A 10News viewer sent photos that show a small black helicopter flying just a few feet above the water with dozens of beachgoers nearby.

Clairemont resident Danny Pendlebury, who took photos of the helicopter, told 10News, "And I'm standing there with my camera taking some pictures and I hear this helicopter noise … at first I thought it was a police helicopter because it was black."

He quickly realized he was wrong when the helicopter, with two men inside, got way too close.

"… And hovered, and dropped down real low, I mean, like to where the skids were almost in the water," Pendlebury said.

Pendlebury added, "I went, 'Is this craft going to go in to the water? Is he in trouble?' And then people are running in to get their kids out of the water and the craft, the pilot's ignoring them and just hovering there."

San Diego lifeguards say they tried yelling through their loudspeakers at the pilots to fly away, but the helicopter hovered for about two minutes.

Pendlebury said, "Now the lifeguards are in the tower. They're going nuts and they're trying to order him out of the water."

A San Diego Lifeguards sergeant said lifeguards do not have a procedure for helicopters buzzing swimmers.

"I mean, if that thing had gone into the water and those blades went through the water, I mean, it wouldn't have been nice," Pendlebury said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is aware of the incident and investigating.

Pendlebury said the pilot "just looked like he was smiling, looking at the people in the water. I've never seen a pilot that reckless and that callous in my book."

10News learned the helicopter is owned by a businesswoman from the Bay Area city of Hayward. 10News tried to contact her but did not receive a response.

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