Drone lands at park near White House; operator cited

WASHINGTON (AP) — Authorities cited a man for illegally flying a drone that crash-landed in a park near the White House early Friday morning.

The U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police responded after the drone was spotted flying near the Washington Monument around 1:20 a.m. Friday. Officials confronted the operator after he lost control and the drone landed in the Ellipse, a park just south of the White House.

Howard Solomon III of Washington, D.C., was cited with launching, landing or operating an unmanned aircraft in a restricted area, and the drone and operating equipment were confiscated, park police said. Police say the citation carries an $85 fine.

Reached by phone Friday, Solomon said that he had been trying to take pictures of the monument and that the wind blew the drone across a street that divides the Ellipse from the grounds of the Washington Monument.

“I was just flying trying to take pictures of the monument,” he said.

He said that when authorities confronted him, he was asked “a bunch of questions like I was a terrorist.”

Washington and communities within a 15-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport are part of a “No Drone Zone” under rules adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Officials identified the drone as a model that can be purchased for about $65 on Amazon.com.

Officials said this was the ninth incident involving the illegal operation of an unmanned aircraft in a national park in the greater Washington area in 2015.

 

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