DJI Phantom Crashes on White House Lawn

White HouseThe person operating the quadcopter that crashed on the White House grounds called the U.S. Secret Service Monday morning to “self-report” their involvement in the incident.

The individual was interviewed by Secret Service agents and has been fully cooperative, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said in a statement Monday afternoon. The Secret Service locked down the White House shortly after 3 a.m. after an officer on the south grounds of the White House spotted the drone, described as a two-foot wide “quad copter,” flying above the White House grounds before crashing on the southeast side of the complex. The officer saw the drone flying at a very low altitude.

“Initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device,” Leary said.

The Secret Service will continue to investigate the incident through “corroborative interviews, forensic examinations and reviews of all other investigative leads,” Leary said.

A Secret Service official said the owner of the drone called in after seeing reports of the drone on the news.

The Secret Service was sweeping the White House grounds on Monday morning looking for anything else that might be on the ground.

President Barack Obama and the first lady are both away, traveling in India.

The executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, Michael Drobac, called the news of the drone crashing at the White House a “terrible incident” for the drone industry because it sends a message that drone users aren’t using the technology responsibly.

But the vast majority of the at least half-million drone users in the U.S. are, Drobac said, citing a conservative estimate. The problem is “bad actors,” he said, and the industry is working with the FAA to educate new users about the rules for operating drones.

And the industry is developing new technologies to prevent users from operating drones in unauthorized spaces. Some of the newest models of recreational drones won’t turn on in unauthorized areas, like within 5 miles of an airport, Drobac said.

“Technology is going to help solve the problem and is already doing it. I trust technology over rogue operators,” he said.

Flying drones is illegal in the District of Columbia, but that hasn’t always kept them out of the capital’s skies.

The Secret Service previously detained an individual operating a quadcopter drone on July 3 in President’s Park, just a block from the South Lawn of the White House, according to a report filed with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Another person was detained by the U.S. Capitol Police for flying a drone on the Capitol Hill grounds. And in October, a drone was spotted above D.C.’s Bolling Air Force Base.

A surge in interest in drones and how they should be regulated even brought one to Capitol Hill — inside a committee room, no less.

Source: CNN

 

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2 comments

  1. I wonder just when this individual was actually flying his drone. The report mentions they were searching the grounds at 3 AM and the fact that this model also didn’t have a camera. All that suggests the owner had programmed it to fly via GPS and not that he knew exactly where it was going when it apparently ran out of battery power. Anyone with more details they’d care to share?

  2. This person and others who operate with reckless abandonment should be fined heavily. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. The FAA won’t let me operate my phantom for legitimate commercial use without first proving it was not registered with the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Please explain that one to me?

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