Pilot error caused DC-bound plane to lose radio contact

WASHINGTON (AP) - An evacuation of the U.S. Capitol building might normally affect a lot more people. But it's New Year's Day Congress is out of session, and the Capitol Visitors Center was closed for the holiday.

So, there weren't many people in the building when today's evacuation order came. It was prompted by a passenger plane that briefly lost radio contact with air traffic controllers as it headed toward Washington's Reagan National Airport. Federal officials say the pilot had inadvertently turned to the wrong frequency.

Because of concern about the plane, all House and Senate office buildings were evacuated, and F-16 fighter jets were scrambled. But a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defenses Command says the airliner was able to re-establish radio contact before landing.

The Secret Service says it moved to a higher security condition during the incident, but didn't evacuate the White House. President Barack Obama is still on vacation in Hawaii.

Authorities interviewed the pilot of the Piedmont Airlines flight from South Carolina once it was on the ground.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)