Here is Where You’re Not Allow to Fly Your Gyrocopter in Washington, D.C.
April 15, 2015
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  • A Florida Man™ was taken into custody on Wednesday after landing his gyrocopter (think: small helicopter) on the lawn of the Capitol Building. Which means that it must be time to play one of our favorite games: Here is where you are not allowed to fly in Washington, D.C.

    In general, flying over our nation’s capital is restricted. The Federal Aviation Administration has established two overlapping zones controlling how pilots can fly near Washington. There’s an Air Defense Identification Zone, which, prior to 2007, was sort of shaped like Mickey Mouse’s ears, covering Dulles Airport and Baltimore Washington International Airport. After 2007, it’s more circular, as on the map below. (Here’s the FAA’s notice on the change.)

    Within that is the “flight restricted zone,” which offers a tighter set of constraints, allowing government and commercial aircraft (allowing the latter to land at Reagan National). (Incidentally, the outlines of these areas come via the very handy DC geography atlas.)

    Update: Steve Hedges of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association notes that there are three general aviation airports in the FRZ (Potomac, Hyde and College Park) which allow private pilots to operate.

    And then there’s the “P56 Zone.”

    We wrote about this a bit when the drone crashed on the grounds of the White House. But it’s an area in which no flying is allowed at all beneath 18,000 feet. It covers the Mall, the White House, and the Capitol — as well as the Naval Observatory in northwest D.C.

    Where the guy crashed his gyrocopter, then, was in a very restricted area within a restricted area within a limited area. It is perhaps one of the places in the United States that you are most not allowed to fly.
    Which explains why he was taken into custody.