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Quadcopter causes buzz at White House

By Model Retailer Staff
Published: January 27, 2015

A small quadcopter caused a big stir early on the morning of Jan. 26 when it strayed over a fence and crashed on the south grounds of the White House. A Secret Service agent and other security officers had observed the drone but were unable to divert it. Later that morning, a government employee called to inform the Secret Service that he was the drone’s owner and that the incursion had been unintentional. It was later reported that the man had been drinking before losing control of the craft.

Although the incident caused a brief lockdown of the executive mansion, a White House spokesman said the drone, identified by the Secret Service as a DJI Phantom Aerial UAV, posed no threat. Still, in light of recent security issues around the White House, including an armed intruder who actually entered the White House, as well as several nearby drone incidents, discussions of presidential security ensued.

A White House radar system failed to detect the drone, raising further fears of a potential attack. Days earlier, the Department of Homeland Security had held a conference in which the threat of small, inexpensive drones was discussed. Officials say drones such as the DJI Phantom are probably too small to carry sufficient explosives to damage the White House. However, the president and others are often outside the building for press conferences or ceremonies. The presidential helicopter operates on the South Lawn.

The Secret Service had no comment on specific drone countermeasures. However, Brian Hearing of Droneshield, which builds drone detection systems, said there are jamming systems that could disable or redirect an approaching drone.

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