Man violates DC's no drone zone law after unmanned aircraft flies over Ellipse

FOX 5 Chief Investigative Reporter Emily Miller reports.

- A drone was forced down onto the Ellipse near the White House Friday morning. The man operating the unmanned aircraft was found nearby and said he made a mistake.

But law enforcement is planning to make the drone laws in D.C. much clearer.

"Washington D.C. is a no drone zone,” said U.S. Park Police Sgt. Anna Rose.

It is a federal law, but many people don't know it.

At 1 a.m. Friday, Secret Service spotted the drone flying over the Ellipse before crash landing.

U.S. Park Police found the operator, Harry Solomon, over at the Washington Monument grounds with the remote control.

Solomon lives in Southeast D.C. and FOX 5 spoke to him by phone.

He said that he had been using his drone -- a six-inch model -- to take pictures of the Washington Monument. But he said the wind caught it and sent it over to the Ellipse.

Park Police confirmed that Solomon is a hobby user and gave him an $85 citation. They also confiscated his drone.

This is the ninth case this year of someone flying into D.C.’s no drone zone. While the drone that landed here on the Ellipse was never a threat to the president, law enforcement never knows whether or not a drone is a toy or a terrorist threat.

“We all know what drones are used for overseas and we would hate to see something like that happen here,” said Sgt. Rose. “And then you have the vicinity of the White House, which is a secure area."

Soon you are going to see no drone signs around D.C. from the Federal Aviation Administration.

U.S. Park Police are planning to launch a public awareness campaign to stop people from flying their drones in D.C. as they want to keep the air space around the nation's capital secure.

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