Howard Solomon III has been given a criminal citation for flying a F182 6 Axis Quadcopter near the Washington Monument and crashing on the Ellipse, a grassy area outside of the security perimeter near the White House South Lawn, according to authorities.
Drones are banned in Washington, D.C. due to security concerns about flying near federal buildings, people and planes. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) introduced in June 2015 a “no-drone zone” to reinforce that ban, which covers a 30-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Anyone who violates this ban could be fined up to $25,000.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Park Police says Solomon didn’t appear to be doing anything “nefarious” but added, however, that this incident marks the ninth time a drone has been flown in a national park in the greater Washington area in 2015 and the 26th since 2013.
Two other incidents involving the White House sparked drone debate earlier in 2015. On May 14, the White House was briefly placed on lockdown after a man tried to fly a drone near the building. The drone was near the north fence line of the White House, but never crossed it. And on January 26, a drunken, off-duty government employee crashed a DJI Phantom drone into the White House grounds. The small drone evaded White House radar that is calibrated to warn of much bigger threats.
Incidents like this partly explain why the FAA recently signed a deal with CACI International to test technology to identify drones flying within 5 miles of an airport and track them back to their operators. This program will use existing technology to identify drones by their radio signals and pinpoint the location of the operator.