Earlier this evening, the Capitol Police in Washington, D.C. called for an evacuation of Congress due to an "aircraft that poses probable threat" which was flying circles around Capitol Building airspace, according to the Associated Press's Zeke Miller. Given the violent riot and attempted insurrection that recently took place there, one could forgive USCP for operating with an abundance of caution.
What became clear in short order was that the aircraft in question, according to Flight Radar, had taken off from nearby Joint Base Andrews, and was of a make and model in use by Army parachute teams as well as commercial skydivers. Incidentally, that's because the payload of this suspicious Viking DHC-6-400 was, in fact, parachutists. Parachutists from the Army's Golden Knights, specifically, who were dropping into Nationals Park during tonight's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (At the time of this writing, the Diamondbacks are winning, handily.)
As later reported by several journalists, the airspace incursion was part of a preplanned Military Appreciation Day — which appears on the Nat's game schedule and entitles two free tickets to (as it's written on their website) "ACTIVE DUTY, DEPENDENTS, VETERANS, AND RESERVISTS WITH MILITARY ID OR PROOF OF SERVICE, WHILE SUPPLIES LAST." Whatever your feelings on reverence for the armed forces during sporting events, undeniably these sorts of these happen regularly, and the subset of those displays that involve parachuting service members are not uncommon.
It's not precisely clear where the breakdown in communication occurred. Did the Army forget to tell the Capitol Police? Did USCP get the memo but simply lose track of things, as one does in our busy, hyperconnected lives? According to NBC, Capitol Police "were not notified in advance of the planned Golden Knights jump" according to "a law enforcement source."
We've reached out both USCP and Joint Base Andrews to illuminate the situation. But rather than mock an honest of nationally panic-inducing mistake from the comfort of our keyboards, we thought it best to led our expertise in order to prevent such a situation from occurring again.
Google Calendar [Free]
It hardly bears mentioning, but Google Calendar is a standby for keeping track of important dates, like birthdays, meetings or when someone might be flying into restricted airspace. There are options to set up push notifications or emails to nudge you when those events are getting close. The last thing you want to do is come up against a deadline and panic!
Slack Notifications [Free with enterprise options]
Do the police or military even use Slack? I have no way to know. But given tonights events maybe they should! Setting up reminders in the workplace messaging application is pretty straightforward.
Been using Mac's Calendar software a lot lately and pretty rarely blank on the stuff I'm supposed to be doing (or not doing!) Microsoft has a parallel product in Outlook Calendar, for the Windows users among you. No one trusts me with important stuff like national security, but my hit-rate on never issuing an unnecessary evacuation is 100 percent. I think that speaks for itself.
Calendly [Free with enterprise options]
Increasingly I seem to be getting invites through this service. I don't like it very much, but it still beats making a nation of 330 million people believe they're about to bear witness to a potential tragedy.
Any.do [Free with premium options]
Haven't used this task reminder app and don't plan to. Keep seeing it on lists of 'best reminder software' though. Just trying to be helpful.
A simple text message will do in a pinch [negligible cost per message]
Sometimes things slip! It's ok. Nearly everyone on the planet has a cell phone on their person at all times these days. Send the relevant party a quick message. While having something potentially annoying drop in your lap last minute is never ideal, it is always preferable to no communication at all.
We'll update if we hear back about what exactly happened tonight. The Nationals' 'Patriotic Series' continues on May 29 (Memorial Day), July 4 and September 1, although those dates don't seem to feature any more parachuting.