TODAY   |  September 07, 2013

How safe are remote-controlled toy helicopters?

After a 19-year-old man was killed by a toy helicopter striking him in the head, questions have been raised about the potential dangers of the extreme hobby. NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a tragedy here in new york city , a young man killed by a model helicopter he was flying in a park. it happened when he lost control in the middle of a trick. today, there are new concerns about the safety of those gadgets. here is the latest from michelle franzen .

>> reporter: he loved flying his large remote control helicopter.

>> recording.

>> reporter: he was a serious enthusiast, honing his hobby and posting videos on youtube.

>> amazing pilot.

>> reporter: thursday afternoon, he was killed while practicing maneuvers. his helicopter boomeranged and the blades struck him in the head.

>> just a terrible, freak event.

>> reporter: his death has stunned family and friends.

>> disbelief is what's in my heart right now. i'll miss him.

>> reporter: the tragedy raises questions about the dangers of this extreme hobby.

>> this is not something you start out with.

>> reporter: the store manager says the toy helicopters most of us are familiar with have plastic wings. the blades on this prohelicopter similar to his could be likened to a flying lawn mower .

>> because of the danger factor and the skill level needed you have to master the other classes before you move up to this.

>> reporter: enthusiasts say safety is always a factor at this level of play.

>> it's an adrenaline rush like any hobby, learn new things and push the envelope.

>> reporter: it's the lead club in the u.s. with 150,000 members and assigned designated flying areas and parks.

>> you have to be respectful of the equipment.

>> reporter: organizers say this is the first known fatality since 2003 . the latest accident is a reminder for anyone trying to master this craft. for "today," michelle franzen , nbc news, new york.