FAA apologizes for not giving Capitol Police advance notice of Nationals Park parachute stunt

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The Federal Aviation Administration says it didn’t provide advance notice to the U.S. Capitol Police ahead of a planned parachute landing at Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park on Wednesday, prompting the agency tasked with securing the seat of democracy to order an evacuation of the entire Capitol Complex.

An email alert originally sent by U.S. Capitol Police contained a subject line stating “Evacuate Now: Aircraft Intrusion,” and then gave guidance on where individuals should move to.

Sources told Fox News that a single-engine private Cessna plane entered restricted airspace over the U.S. Capitol, dropping off military parachutists at Nationals Park for the Nationals vs. Diamondbacks baseball game, where it was military appreciation night.

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Instructions to evacuate the Capitol Building, Washington D.C.

Instructions to evacuate the Capitol Building, Washington D.C.
(Fox News)

Capitol security officials told Fox News that they did not get a notification of the flight, which they usually receive. This triggered the alert and prompted the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol.

“This is not supposed to happen,” one senior Capitol security officer told Fox News. “This looks bad.”

An FAA spokesperson confirmed in a statement  Friday that it did not provide advance notice of the event to the U.S. Capitol Police, which triggered the evacuation. 

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Entrances are blocked to the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

Entrances are blocked to the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
(Fox News)

“The FAA’s initial review of the circumstances surrounding Wednesday night’s parachute demonstration by the U.S. Army Golden Knights at Nationals Park showed that we did not provide advance notification of this event to the U.S. Capitol Police. We deeply regret that we contributed to a precautionary evacuation of the Capitol complex and apologize for the disruption and fear experienced by those who work there,” the statement read.

The spokesperson said that the federal agency is taking “immediate steps” to prevent this incident from happening again.

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The U.S. Army Parachute Team the Golden Knights descend into National Park before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Washington. 

The U.S. Army Parachute Team the Golden Knights descend into National Park before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Washington. 
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“We value our partnership with the U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies, and we are taking immediate steps to ensure that we always coordinate well in advance with other agencies to avoid confusion over future aviation events in the Washington, D.C., area,” the spokesperson said.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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