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Attention residents and visitors to the nation's capital: Leave your drones at home. With the approach of the busy summer tourist season, federal aviation officials launched a public outreach campaign Wednesday to remind folks that flying drones in and around the Washington, D.C., area is prohibited. Rules put in place after the 9/11 terrorist attacks make the airspace around Washington the most restrictive in the country, and operating an unmanned aircraft in the area is illegal, the FAA says. The "No-Drone Zone" applies to the District of Columbia and cities and towns within a 15-mile radius of Ronald-Reagan Washington National Airport. "Anyone visiting the D.C. area should leave their drone at home," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement. "We want to make sure everyone knows and understands the rules about flying in the National Capital Region."

The outreach campaign comes less than four months after an out-of-control recreational drone crashed on the grounds of the White House. The operator had borrowed the quadcopter from a friend and was flying it around for fun outside his apartment window when he lost control. No charges were filed in that case.

As part of its educational outreach efforts, the FAA said it is developing a smartphone app to tell recreational unmanned aircraft operators where they can and cannot legally operate. The FAA expects to release the app for Apple phones later this year.



— James Eng