White House Locked Down After Reported Airspace Violation


The White House and U.S. Capitol building were briefly on lockdown on Tuesday morning following reports of “a potential violation of the restricted airspace in the National Capital Region.” The lockdown was initiated around 8:27 a.m. local time and lifted at 9:12 a.m. It is now being suggested that the radar anomaly that triggered the alert, initially believed to be an aircraft, was caused by a flock of birds, a drone or a weather balloon.

According to a statement form NORAD, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was sent to investigate and “the event was resolved without incident.” No aircraft was found and it has been reported that the pilot of the helicopter investigating the incident told air traffic control that they had spotted a flock of birds in the vicinity. Earlier statements from officials said that fighter jets had been scrambled to respond to the potential threat.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. This is getting ridiculous. The only persons nailed for violating that airspace are private pilots who just happened to wander into it, not any threatening terrorist. I have read some articles criticizing the Secret Service for lack of communication on these events, even some people getting injured from the unnecessary evacuations. Someone is going to get unnecessarily seriously hurt or killed during evacuations because of these events. If people living or working in the D.C. area are that afraid then those persons need to find another job or home outside of D.C. including our wonderful politicians who created most of this mess (SFRA) in the first place.

    • Unfortunately Matt, your’s is a common reaction to any safety related restriction. When something happens, everyone gets hyper and various regs and restrictions are put into place. Then, over time, those regs and restrictions get “boring” and “unnecessary” because nothing happens. Then….. the cycle repeats itself. That is the nature of these things. People with long term bad intentions know this cycle and have the patience to wait it out. This is best displayed with the levels of complaints about TSA screening being unnecessary, etc, etc. It will happen, eventually, TSA screening will be relaxed and something will occur that good dcreening would have prevented. Everyone will wail and knash their teeth and cry to the heavens about how could this happen and seek someone to blame.
      The area around places like DC are well known as restricted areas and folks in airplanes should know to stay away. If they don’t, well things like this article details will happen. Would you like to be the one that has to explain to the next set of victims families why that incident occurred and their relatives won’t be coming home? I sure wouldn’t.

      • The SFRA is not safety related, it is purely political. Keep in mind this time it has not even been determined to be an actual aircraft. You can cry wolf only so many times before people stop believing the alarms and evacuate orders. A perfect example of my point;

        In 2016 the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship. When the city held a celebration the local media estimated over a million fans showed up to see the parade through downtown Cleveland. I was on office call at the air ambulance outfit I was working at. There were VFR news helicopters, banner towers, and various other VFR traffic flying over that parade. Not one, I repeat not one TFR was issued that day during the victory parade the city held for the Cavs. I guess a million Clevelanders who were lined up along East 9th street to city hall didn’t rate a worthless TFR!

  2. We used to be the land of the free and the Home of the Brave.
    Now we run and hide because of a flock of seagulls.

  3. I think it’s high time that the Secret Service, FAA and all the other bureaucratic alphabet soup entities require ADS-B transponders on all birds daring to fly in the SFRA. uAvionix oughta be able to figure a way to put one of those tail thingies on ’em without harming them. And DARPA could probably figure out a way to invent a ‘ray gun’ to take ’em down if they don’t cooperate by squitting position and ID. Of course, they’ll all have to take the course and have a special squawk code.

    How the heck did we get to the moon in less than 10 years using cave man technology and slide rules ??

    • I got a better idea, just eliminate the SFRA all together. It has not accomplished anything but get a few GA pilots in trouble for wandering into the SFRA. Voting pilot public needs to send Congress a message which in turn needs to reign in the overzealous Secret Service and return the airspace back to the FAA where it belongs!

  4. Seriously, light aircraft are much less dangerous than large trucks. It’s so stupid. Terrorists could surround DC with mortars and rockets without anyone thinking twice, but God forbid a dark skinned man or a veteran get hold of a Cessna.