Have drones gone too far? At left is the South Lawn of the White House (AP photo / Thinkstock)
Have drones gone too far?
Lexile

A small drone flying low to the ground crashed onto the White House grounds, triggering a major emergency response and raising fresh questions about security at the presidential mansion. A man later came forward to say he was responsible and didn't mean to fly it over the complex.

The man contacted the Secret Service after reports of the crash spread in the media, a U.S. official said. The man told the agency that he had been flying the drone recreationally. The man is a Washington resident and is cooperating with investigators.

Although President Barack Obama was not at home, the security breach prompted a lockdown of the entire complex until officials could examine the drone. The White House later said it did not pose a threat.

The drone crashed on the southeast side of the White House grounds just after 3 a.m. Monday, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said.

Secret Service agents are interviewing other people to corroborate the man's story. They don't currently have any reason to doubt the man's story, the official said.

The device was described as a two-foot-long quadcopter. It's a commercially available unmanned aircraft that is lifted by four propellers. Many small quadcopters are essentially sophisticated toys. They can also be useful for commercial operations like aerial photography and inspections. Often weighing only a few pounds, they sell for as little as a few hundred dollars or less. Many were popular Christmas gifts last year.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama were traveling in India. Their daughters, Sasha and Malia, may have been at home. White House officials declined to comment on the daughters' whereabouts Monday. But ahead of the president's trip, aides had said the daughters would remain in Washington so as not to miss school.

"The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House," said presidential spokesman Josh Earnest.

Still, the incident was likely to reinvigorate a long-running public debate about the use of commercial drones in U.S. skies, as well as White House security. The Secret Service is still recovering after a string of breaches that raised questions about whether the president is adequately protected.

The recent proliferation of inexpensive drones has prompted growing fears about potential collisions with traditional aircraft. Technological advances have also made it easier to equip drones with advanced capabilities such as cameras. That's raised privacy issues as well as concerns that such devices could carry weapons.

Industry experts said that to carry and fire a weapon, a drone would need more engines and more propellers than most commercially manufactured quadcopters.

Critical thinking challenge: Give two reasons why the drone did not pose a threat to the president.

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COMMENTS (24)
  • AlexisS-Rei
    2/10/2015 - 05:24 p.m.

    The drone didn't pose a threat because it didn't have a fire arm on it and it didn't go in the white house and gather privet info. A drone would need more engines and more propellers than most commercially manufactured quad copters.( says the passage ) The drone didn't get that far into the white house grounds it got just over the fence and not even close to the white house. The only way it could pose a threat would be if it was actually in the white house and recorded privet information the president has planed for America. The other way that it could have posed a threat is if it was big er and had fire arms that could Herta someone or even cause death. The president was in no harm from the drone.

  • elizabethb-
    9/08/2015 - 11:49 a.m.

    The drones did not pose a risk to the president because they do not have weapons and do not have a big enough motor to make themselves dangerous.

  • anthonyi-
    9/08/2015 - 03:43 p.m.

    The drone didn't pose a threat because he wasn't home and also because the drone is not capable of holding weapons it would need more engines to do so so it wouldn't hold a threat to the president or the white house at all

  • michaell-
    9/09/2015 - 07:57 a.m.

    One reason the drone did not pose a threat to the president is because tbe drone was only a basic quadcopter it had no weapons or anything that could harm the president. Another reason the drone could not hurt the president is because the man flying the drone did not mean any harm he was just flying his drone and it went into the white house grounds.

  • jacobk-
    9/09/2015 - 05:45 p.m.

    Drones should be kept under close watch because they can be used in violent situations ; due to the common manner in which they are used and can catch innocent civilians off guard causing them fatal injuries and sometimes death .

  • ginaj-
    9/10/2015 - 09:33 a.m.

    The Drone wasn't a threat to the president because the drone did not have a fire arm and was being flown for recreational use. The drone also did not go into the white house along with the president not being home at the time along with the first lady. I understand the actions being taken on security but they have no reasoning to do anything about it because it was not a threat. The drone only got over the fence it hardly got near the white house. The only way it would have posed a threat would be if it was armed and made it into the house.

  • chryshalisc-
    9/11/2015 - 12:17 a.m.

    The drone didn't pose a threat because it had no cameras on it to spy on anyone and the drone aren't strong enough to carry firearms on them according to industry experts.

  • alexm-
    9/13/2015 - 02:23 p.m.

    Two reasons why the drone did not pose a threat to the president was because it didn't have a fire arm on it and it didn't go in the white house and gather private information. A drone would need more engines and more propellers than most commercially manufactured quad copters. The drone didn't get that far into the White house grounds it got over the fence and not even close to the white house. The only way it could pose a threat would be if it was actually in the white house and recorded private information the president has planned for America. The other way that it could have posed a threat is if it was bigger and had fire arms that could Hurt someone or even cause death.

  • sambak-
    9/18/2015 - 07:47 a.m.

    The drone didn't pose a threat to the president because it didn't have a weapon and was being used for recreational use. However they should be kept under close watch in the future because they could have cameras or, maybe, weapons on them.

  • kayleigho-
    9/18/2015 - 07:47 a.m.

    The drones did not pose a threat to the president because he and his wife were traveling in India. Also the drone did not pose a threat because industry experts claim that to carry a fire weapon or any weapon in general, a drone would need more engines and propellers than most manufactured quadcopters.

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