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Capitol Evacuated Due to Airspace Violation

The Capitol building was evacuated at approximately 12:40 p.m. because of an unauthorized aircraft in the area, according to Capitol Police.

Hundreds of aides, tourists and reporters waited outside and on the surrounding streets until the police give the all-clear sign at approximately 12:50 p.m.

Such evacuations were frequent in the first couple of years after the 9/11 attacks, but have happened less often in recent years.

By Paul Volpe  |  April 24, 2009; 12:57 PM ET
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Excellent article. No fact, no info. Great job WaPo.

Posted by: askgees | April 24, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Could hear the roar of fighter plane(s) over the Capitol during the evacuation. Didn't see them however.

Posted by: capitolhilldc | April 24, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

@askgees What kind of info are you expecting 7 minutes after this happened? I think this story is a good service for people who may have seen crowds around the capitol and wondered what is going on or tourists who were told nothing. Kudos to the Post for getting the info up quickly that it was an unauthorized plane and all clear now.

Posted by: shukaidi | April 24, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

There is a 2,000 square mile no-fly zone around DC. The chances of a small, general aviation, airplane causing much damage to anything other than itself, is some where between slim and none.

Another example of an Out of Control totalitarian government action that is un-American to the core.. It is increasingly obvious that the terrorist threat is a made up lie to rob good, decent, hard working, Americans of their basic civil right and liberties.

Time for all of these anti-American government organizations to be deported to China or North Korea or Darfur where enemies like then should stay.

Posted by: UnitedStatesofAmerica | April 24, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Even better, you know what the evacuation plans are for Capital employees? Run North! That's right! Run North? Brilliant planners, especially after 9-11...

Posted by: ARessing | April 24, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

These things are usually nothing. Like "suspicious packages" that end up being a homeless guy's underwear.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 24, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The restricted zone in D.C., all it does is catch poor innocent people. They've never caught a terrorist, it's just people making a mistake.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 24, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Tom Sherwood.

End the hysteria now.

Defund Homeland Security now.

Smash the control machine now.

End the TSA now.

Stop stripsearching free-born American teenagers at the Capitol while foreign lobbyists enter the same building scot free!


Posted by: bs2004 | April 24, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Typical...we complain when we have to evac and the building does not blow up, and we complain when it does and we were not told to evac. Think I would rather be standing across the street(alive), even if it was for nothing.

Posted by: Moe11 | April 24, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Come on, it's nice outside. Granted a few vampires in the Congress burst into flames in the sunlight but for most it was a good distraction from a Friday (in which no one was really working anyway).

Posted by: idiparker | April 24, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

CNN showed the Senate chamber when the evacuation was announced. Roland Burris was taking his turn as the presiding officer and the look on his face was priceless. He looked like he was going to wet his pants.

I can't believe that the footage isn't up on YouTube yet. Not only is the man a sleazy opportunist, but he's a physical coward as well.

Posted by: hisroc | April 24, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

>>The chances of a small, general aviation, airplane causing much damage to anything other than itself, is some where between slim and none.
Posted by: UnitedStatesofAmerica | April 24, 2009 2:09 PM

It could put the one person it lands on out of their misery.

Posted by: rpatoh | April 24, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

It was a Cessna 180 which is a 4 passenger, single-engine aircraft. I think evacuation is a brilliant idea as the people are then out on the street and then could be a great target for terrorists. What if the plane was simply a diversion?

If our military thinks a Cessna 180, with an immediately traceable tail number, is of grave danger to the Capital and the people in it - what have we been doing for the past 8 years?

Perhaps the pilot was lost...though it's hard to imagine he didn't see the government buildings on this perfectly clear day. Much like the morning of 9/11.

Posted by: carolineC1 | April 24, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

2000 square mile no-fly zone? The District, itself, covers less than 100 square miles. The FAA has established a prohibited area that covers about 4 square miles and includes the National Mall, the Capitol Building, the White house and portions of downtown. You can see it here:

Posted by: eevolk | April 24, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps you're thinking of the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which is pretty large. You can read about it here:

Posted by: eevolk | April 24, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

You would think someone smart enough to hold a pilot's license would understand the meaning of restricted airspace. Perhaps a hefty fine, revocation of license or an unexpected splash-down in the Potomac would curb this nonsense.

Posted by: slim2 | April 24, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I bet he was a republican...

Posted by: demtse | April 24, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

N2214C was just another clueless, hapless pilot that cost the US Gov't Millions.

We monitored, guided and used discretion; again. Not a threat--just a potential embarrassment or psychological attack in the making. In this case, mostly just an embarrassed pilot.

Vigilance, discretion and readiness. Don't kid yourself, we're not as unprepared as we were on 9/11.


I bet he voted for Nader.....

Posted by: taterhed | April 24, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

LOL, I worked for the Senate when this happened during Reagan's funeral. The panic in Capitol Police's voice, the crying tourists, and the sheer terror from staffers was priceless to watch. I just ended up strolling from the Hart building to Union Station for some sushi. Fun times.

Posted by: paperboy76 | April 24, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

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