See footage from a drone as it crashes into the landmark near where pyro technicians were readying the annual fireworks display, 575 feet above the ground.
A flying drone struck the Space Needle’s roof while pyrotechnicians were prepping for the annual fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, representatives of the Seattle tower said Wednesday.
A spokesman for the Seattle Police Department, which is investigating the collision, said such crashes are an increasing concern in the city. The Space Needle incident is the sixth significant investigation involving a drone since summer 2014, according to the department. Space Needle spokesman Dave Mandapat said the New Year’s Eve crash was the third one in recent years at the landmark alone.
In that crash, captured in a video by the drone’s recording, the drone didn’t damage the Needle, Mandapat said. The aircraft sustained some damage, but his team was still able to salvage the footage.
“We looked at the card within the drone to see where it originated and who might be the owner,” he said. About a half-dozen pyrotechnicians were on the roof, which is 575 feet high, when the crash occurred around 2 p.m.
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The footage shows a panoramic view of Seattle and the city’s waterfront while the drone hovers around the Space Needle, before gaining speed and crashing into the roof.
Mandapat said his team has turned the aircraft over to Seattle police to investigate and has alerted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said the crash marks a “proliferation” of drone incidents.
In June 2014, a woman told police she saw a drone hovering outside her downtown high-rise while she was topless. The drone owner was a Portland-based aerial photographer.
The following month, Space Needle security called police after guests reported seeing a small drone possibly crash into an observation-deck window. There was no damage to the Needle.
At the city’s annual 2015 Pride Parade in June, a drone weighing about 2 pounds crashed into a downtown building and then struck a 25-year-old woman in the head. The aircraft’s operator in that incident was charged with reckless endangerment.
In November that year, less than two miles away, a flying drone hit the giant Ferris wheel near downtown Seattle’s waterfront. No injuries or damages were reported.
According to the FAA, which sets regulations on drones, more than 600,000 operators have registered their drones nationwide in the agency’s online-registration system over the past year, the agency reported last month.
Mandapat said crews are frequently on the Needle’s roof to ready it for holidays or other occasions. Weighing 3,700 tons, its observation deck sits at 520 feet and hosts more than 1 million people each year, according to its website.
The “T-Mobile New Year’s at the Needle” fireworks display lasted roughly 10 minutes, with thousands of fireworks placed at 87 locations on the Space Needle. The annual display has helped Seattleites ring in the New Year for decades.
Information from The Seattle Times archives was included in this report.