The Sky is Falling

The Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds get all the attention when it comes to military demonstration teams. Still, neither can claim that they once invoked a panic in Washington DC that caused the evacuation of the Capitol building. That distinction belongs (perhaps forever) to the US Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Demonstration Team.

The devastation capable of being wrought by the US Army Golden Knight Parachute Team. Image Credit: designated survivor

It was 6:30 PM ET in Washington DC, and a lone single-engined unidentified aircraft made its’ way toward the heart of the nation’s capital. Fear bristled in the hearts of some of our nation’s lawmakers. What was the nefarious purpose of this flight?

US Capitol Police immediately ordered the evacuation of the Capitol building and the US Library of Congress.  Staffers quickly gathered their belongings and made for the streets, preparing for another 9/11.

And then…nothing.

The aircraft was operated by the US Army and carried members of the elite Golden Knights Parachute Demonstration Team. They were on their way to a scheduled drop into that night’s baseball game at Nationals Park. They made the drop into the stadium with no issues.

We come in peace and maybe for a hot dog and beer when we’re done. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Communication Breakdown

“Communication breakdown, it’s always the same
Havin’ a nervous breakdown, a-drive me insane.” – Led Zeppelin

After the incident was over and the all-clear was given, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lauded the Capitol Police’s bravery while also slamming the Federal Aviation Administration for the apparent lack of communication.

“The Federal Aviation Administration’s apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned flyover Nationals Stadium is outrageous and inexcusable. The unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for Members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th.”