UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Washington, DC Area Decreed a Drone Free Zone
No Drone Zone.
The Federal Aviation Administration has a message for hobbyists and commercial unmanned aircraft vehicle operators: keep your drones 15 miles away from the Nation’s Capital — or else.
The FAA announced this week (May 13) a public outreach campaign for the region around Washington, D.C. The purpose of the campaign is to reinforce the message that the city itself, and communities within a 15-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, are a “No Drone Zone.”
In short, if you come to Washington as a tourist, photographer or UAV enthusiast, the message is clear: “Leave Your Drone Home.” Don’t even think about taking video or still photos of the White House, Capitol Hill or the Pentagon with your camera attached to a quadcopter or other mini unmanned aircraft.
Rules put in place after the 9/11 attacks establish “national defense airspace” over the D.C. area and limit aircraft operations – including unmanned aircraft – to those with an FAA and Transportation Security Administration authorization. Violators may face stiff fines and criminal penalties.
The effort includes furnishing outreach materials to other federal, state and local partners around the National Capital Region. The agency wants to ensure residents and tourists all understand that flying an unmanned aircraft in this area for any purpose is against the law.
The ban took an urgent turn earlier this year when a government employee, flying a small quadcopter for fun late at night on the Washington Mall, accidentally crashed into a tree on the South lawn of the White House. No one was hurt but the inability of the Secret Service to track such a small intruder raised questions about White House security.
Just a day after the announcement, a 39-year-old California man was arrested and charged with violating the no drones zone. He and his UAV were seized when Secret Service officers saw a man flying a small, remote-controlled aircraft over Lafayette Park north of the White House.