FAA Takes Blame For Capitol Evacuations


The FAA has apologized for the mayhem it inadvertently caused by not notifying Washington, D.C., authorities about a performance by the Army Golden Knights parachute team at Nationals Park before a baseball game on Wednesday evening. The unexpected appearance of a Twin Otter dispensing skydivers in the country’s most secure airspace prompted the Capitol Police to evacuate government buildings. The Army immediately issued statements saying it had filed all the necessary paperwork and received all the correct approvals and the FAA ate the requisite crow on Friday.

“The FAA’s initial review of the circumstances surrounding Wednesday night’s parachute demonstration by the U.S. Army Golden Knights at Nationals Park showed that we did not provide advance notification of this event to the U.S. Capitol Police,” the agency said in a statement. It also said it apologized “for the disruption and fear experienced by those who work” at the facilities that were evacuated. It said it’s talking with all the agencies involved to “take any additional steps necessary to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

Other AVwebflash Articles


    • They frightened fearful people, but did not break any laws. The army did everything that they were supposed to do. How people reacted, that was up to them

      • “How people reacted, that was up to them

        An airplane circling near a popular target and you belittle concerns of occupants?

        Read the bleeping news! Repeated assaults on the Capitol from the ground, risk of hotheads supporting Russia – house of Ukranian church minister burned in Sictoria BC by pouring gasoline through mail slot of door then igniting it.

        (Occupants got out, with effort. Minister rant through the flames, children jumped into his arms, wife waited on window ledge for fire crew to take her down.)

        [I doubt Putin would try terrorism in the US as he did in West Germany when a KGB official in East Germany, but his army has many vicious people who don’t think well.)

        • The flight was approved so there was no need to send out a “warning”.
          Don’t capital police know about the baseball game in their town or have cops at the field that night that could have straighened out their “superiors”?

  1. Get rid of the SFRA and this would not be an issue. I have no sympathy for those working with DC. If those employees and Congress persons and Senators are that afraid then they need to find another job somewhere else and let people who can deal with this work there.

  2. It’s refreshing to see an entity of any kind take blame for a shortcoming rather than let it become a long dragged out scandal before finally fessing up.

  3. Twin Otters over DC dropping paratroopers? It must be Russians! Evactuate!
    I suggest that to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future we need to educate DC Police.
    But then again, this is the DC Police; nevermind.

    • You omit that the airplane circled a few times before parachutists descended, waiting for jump time.

      Circling near a popular target – the capitol: read news of recent attacks by individuals and by a mob on January 6, 2021 (one of the perps flew her own airplane to the DC area to participate on foot)..

      I presume announcer told crowd in stadium what was happening.

      • We have fly-overs at ball games all the time, it’s “Americana”; it’s what we do.

        So-called security police who think terrorist would use a plane to circle a few times and then drop killers on golden parachutes (instead of just riding a non-descript bus to their target) is a relatively new kind of stupid.

  4. Maybe they were watching Red Dawn in Congress that morning. On the other hand, probably not. Red Dawn is all about patriotic Americans giving up everything to fight for their country and freedom. Quite the opposite of their paradigm.

  5. Having flown in that airspace before, with permission, it’s not just one phone call. The Army had to tell a bunch of people, all who would have been in the know. And there are other steps taken, refer to the River Approach to 19 at DCA. The whole concept of “just wandering around the airspace” is a joke.

  6. I’d be very interested to know what disciplinary steps are being taken by the FAA against the people who made the error. When we make mistakes, our careers are ruined. When the FAA makes a mistake, they only have to apologize.

  7. What still doesn’t make sense to me is why the capitol police thought this aircraft was a threat, and how they learned about it? Is the FAA saying they didn’t notify ATC of this event, so they in turn thought it was a threat and notified the CP? If that’s the case, why weren’t intercepts launched? If ATC did know, then how did the CP find out, and how could they distinguish that aircraft from all the others that are (properly) flying in the DC SFRA?

    • Uh, surely people reported it to the cognizant emergency authorities, if some of their personnel didn’t see it themselves (some are on guard out front?).

      And may have known enough to call ATC on a hotline.

      • What “people” would have reported it, though? Hundreds of planes legally fly through that airspace every day, so how would they have picked this one out? Surely the CP must get a call if ATC sees an unidentified aircraft flying into the airspace, and if this aircraft wasn’t following the proper procedures for flying in the airspace, ATC surely would have reported it.

          • It is restricted airspace; so obviously the plane was approved to be there. Duh!
            Obviouslely if it was a threat then there would have been an alarm sent.
            How embassasing that the cops were the only clueless people that night!

    • “The panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on Jan. 6 [2021],” Pelosi said”

      I’ll bite
      How many house members and staff were actually in the office at 6:30pm Wednesday night?
      Aren’t the capitol police (actions/inactions) responsible for all the so-called “panics” thus far?

      • Huh? You do not make sense about capitol police.

        I think many politicians work late when in town, and staff work late when there is a priority project.

        Oh, and where is the residence called ‘White House’?

        Do note there have been aircraft attacks in the past, at least one evacuation (in that case before an unknown aircraft got very close).

        BTW people, the Secret Service guard the outside of the White House, may be present at the Capitol buildings as well.

        How far is the stadium from Capitol and White House, how wide were the circles jump aircraft were making?

        • And what was the target of United 93?

          Note that bin Laden was plotting attacks on the US and its interests until US operatives took him out. (al Qaeda did not have many resources any more but was motivated, other Islamic Totalitarians are prominent now.)

          And remember Timothy McVeigh.

        • Let’s just agree that the capitol police cannot even stop some unarmen protestors much less identify actual threats. Everyone knew what was going on but them. How embarrasing!

  8. Russ, thanks for reinstating the “Other AVWebflash articles” index so we don’t have to keep going back to a different tab to keep reading the newsletter.