A remote-controlled drone being operated by a local Washington, DC, resident has crash-landed on the White House property. This has been the third incident of this kind to happen this year. The resident is now facing charges for illegally flying the drone.
The drone, owned by Howard Solomon III, landed on the Ellipse, which is across the White House. Before crash-landing, it flew near the Washington Monument before it was retrieved by Secret Service Agents. The drone was a F182 6 Axis Quadcopter that measures six by six inches. The drone operator was flying the drone near the Washington Monument in order to capture an air photograph of it; however, the wind caught it and blew it away, causing the owner to lose control.
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Criminal Citation Issued for Solomon!
Spokesperson for the United States Park Police, Sgt. Anna Rose, said that a criminal citation was issued for the local resident, but no arrest was made. The reason no arrest was made right away was because he did not pose an actual threat. However, a fine of $85 was laid down, and a court appearance is required from Howard Solomon III. Despite two citations being issued against two separate people, Howard Solomon III is the only person being charged because he was flying the drone in a heavily regulated zone in and around Washington D.C. The drone flight path is considered illegal because drones have been forbidden in Washington since the September 11, 2011, attacks. Federal law has banned unmanned aircraft; however, drones are easily obtainable through the Internet for anywhere between $40 and $80.
Sergeant Rose has said that they are looking to raise public awareness on prohibited drone airspace. Since drones are illegal to fly within Washington, DC, more residents need to be aware of this. “In an effort to deter drone usage, we’re partnering with the FAA and we’re launching a campaign. We’ll be posting signs to various parks,” Rose stated. Rose also said that the Federal Aviation Administration has made the Reagan National Airport a “no-drone-zone” as drones pose a threat to airplane airspace.
Drones Flying Over the White House Is a Common Occurrence
The other two incidents occurred in May and in January, respectively. In May, an individual tried to fly their drone over the Lafayette Square, which is located in front of the White House. The United States Secret Service stopped the attempt, though.
In January, the entire White House was put into a lockdown when a small drone crash-landed into the grounds. The drone operator was flying the plane as a recreational activity when the incident occurred. However, since there were scandals taking place at the time, the Secret Service agency was made to look like they were dysfunctional and complacent and the drone incident was considered a security breach.
There are measures being taken place to stop the recreational use of drone flying in the Washington area. The Secret Service takes all crash-landings as possible threats to the nation, so counter measures are being put in place. For instance, they are considering using electromagnetic waves to interfere with the drones by zapping them when they enter the airspace. Plus, measures that disrupt the drone’s radio commands are also being considered as possible solutions.