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FAA Declares No-Drone Zones For Papal Visit – Leave Your Drones Home

Derrick Threatt

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no-drone zone washington dc

Drones are unwelcome as Pope Francis visits his flock this month in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

The Federal Aviation Administration designated all three areas no-drone zones to prohibit remote-controlled flights from Sept. 22 through Sept. 27. The prohibition is part of broader restrictions to limit unscheduled flights around the Pope’s various events as a security precaution.

“If you plan to attend any of the Papal visit events, please leave your drone at home,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “Anyone flying a drone within the designated restricted areas may be subject to civil and criminal charges.”

Drones are typically prohibited at large gatherings such as sporting events, and flight restrictions already blanket the Capital for national-security reasons.

But the D.C. no-fly zone has been expanded to aircraft at small airports in Maryland such as Potomac Airfield, College Park and Washington Executive/Hyde Park.

The Pope is scheduled to arrive Sept. 22 at Joint Base Andrews near Washington and then meet with President Obama at the White House the next day. The Pope will speak Sept. 24 to a joint session of Congress.

He meets Sept. 25 with the United Nations General Assembly, followed a procession through Central Park and a Mass at Madison Square Garden.

From New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, the Pope travels Sept. 26 to Philadelphia, where he will hold Mass is at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, and visitIndependence Hall.

He departs for Rome the next day.

The flight restrictions govern flights that aren’t for law enforcement, the military, regularly scheduled airlines and cargo flights approved by the Transportation Security Administration:

  • The Washington area from 3:30 p.m. Sept. 22 through 4:30 p.m. Sept. 24.
  • The New York area within 2.3 miles of LaGuardia airport from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Sept. 16 through Sept. 24. Helicopters will be allowed to fly to the 30th Street and34th Street heliports under designated routes.
  • The Philadelphia area within 13.8 miles of downtown from 9 a.m. Sept. 26 through 9:30 p.m. Sept. 28.

Security will be tight throughout the Pope’s visit. Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, told a news conference Sept. 3 that his department had been preparing “a lot” with Secret Service and local law enforcement agencies.

“I have no concerns,” Johnson said. “I know for a fact that a lot of planning has gone into this. We are looking forward to a successful visit.”

Amtrak Police Chief Polly Hanson said TSA sponsored a training exercise for a variety of agencies in July to prepare for the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia.

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