On September 21, 2017, just as dusk fell, Vyacheslav Tantashov launched his DJI Phantom 4 drone from a spot near Dyker Beach Park in Brooklyn, just southeast of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Tantashov wanted to see some spectacular views, he said, and he flew the drone nearly 280 feet up in the air and well out of his line of sight. The drone hovered over the shipping channel near Hoffman Island, some 2.5 miles from the launch site. Tantashov maneuvered the craft a bit, watching the images displayed on his Samsung tablet, and then punched the “return to home” button. The drone, which had a rapidly dying battery, made a beeline back toward the launch site.
But it never arrived. After waiting 30 minutes, Tantashov assumed there had been a mechanical malfunction and that the drone had fallen into the water. He returned home.
On September 28, Tantashov received a call at work. It was an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), calling to asking if Tantashov was the owner of a Phantom 4 drone. He was, he said, though he had lost it recently near the Verrazano Bridge.