Operator Of Drone That Crashed At White House Works At Intelligence Agency

January 27, 2015

We told you Monday about a “quad copter” that crashed on the White House grounds. The Secret Service said the person who was operating the device later called to say (s)he had lost control of it, noting the person had been cooperative. Well, today we know a little more. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency said one of its employees was operating the drone.

“The employee was off duty and is not involved in work related to drones or unmanned aerial vehicles in any capacity at NGA,” the agency said in a statement. “Even though the employee was using a personal item while off duty, the agency takes the incident very seriously and remains committed to promoting public trust and transparency.”

The New York Times adds that the drone operator, who had been drinking at an apartment nearby, decided to test-fly his friend’s quad copter in the early hours of Monday morning. But the drone, unnamed officials told The Times, “was foiled, perhaps by the wind or a tree, when the employee … lost control. … He texted his friends, worried that the drone had gone down on the White House grounds.”

The next morning, the newspaper says, his friends told him about the drone on the White House grounds, which by now was news. He contacted his employer and the Secret Service to tell them what had happened. Here’s more from the paper:

“In the process of what officials describe as nothing more than a drunken misadventure with a drone, the employee managed to highlight another vulnerability in the protective shield that the Secret Service erects around the White House complex.”

As we reported Monday, a Secret Service officer saw and heard the 2-foot-wide commercial quad copter fly low onto the grounds of the White house at about 3:08 a.m. ET. It crashed on the southeast side, the agency said in a statement.

The White House said the device posed no threat to the first family. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were in India; their daughters stayed behind in Washington with their grandmother.

The incident is the latest security lapse at the White House – lapses that resulted in the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson. Several top officials at the agency were asked to leave earlier this month.

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