Plane, parachutists at baseball game spark security scare at US Capitol

FAA did not notify in advance, police tell congressional staff and others in a letter

Reuters file
Reuters file

By Reuters

Published: Thu 21 Apr 2022, 6:48 AM

Last updated: Thu 21 Apr 2022, 7:15 AM

Aircraft from the US Army's Golden Knights parachute demonstration team sparked a security scare at the US Capitol on Wednesday during a performance over the nearby Washington Nationals baseball stadium, prompting an evacuation of the halls of Congress, police said.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the security alarm an "outrageous and frightening mistake" by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for failing to notify the Capitol Police of the pre-planned parachute demonstration. She said Congress would examine the results of a review into the incident to determine what went wrong.

The US Capitol Police first said they were tracking an aircraft that posed a "probable threat" to the Capitol complex, and then minutes later said there was no threat and that the building had been evacuated out of an abundance of caution.

Police later said the plane was a military aircraft carrying members of the US Army's Golden Knights parachute demonstration team. The FAA did not notify police in advance, the Capitol police told congressional staff and others in a letter.

The Golden Knights then parachuted into the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium, Nationals Park, a little over a mile away from the US Capitol.

"The unnecessary 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 January 6," Pelosi said in a statement late on Wednesday, referring to the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The FAA has begun a review of the incident, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The FAA declined to comment.

The aircraft, a single-engine plane, was reported to be circling around Washington after taking off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, CNN reported.

"Congress looks forward to reviewing the results of a thorough after-action review that determines what precisely went wrong today and who at the Federal Aviation Administration will be held accountable for this outrageous and frightening mistake," Pelosi said.

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