Man Who Landed Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn Could Face Over 9 Years in Prison

James Borchuck/The Tampa Bay Times via AP
James Borchuck/The Tampa Bay Times via AP
Washington D.C.

The Florida man who flew a gyrocopter to the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. could face up to nine and a half years in prison after being indicted by a federal jury on Wednesday.

Douglas Hughes, 61, landed his one-man gyrocopter on the Capitol’s west lawn on April 15 to protest campaign finance, he said.

Whatever his motivations, Hughes flew his copter through restricted airspace and was arrested by Capitol Police as soon as he landed.

Now the Ruskin, Florida, mail carrier has been indicted by a federal grand jury on six charges, including a violation of aircraft registration requirements and violation of national defense airspace.

“An investigation determined that he does not have a pilot’s certificate or registration for the aircraft,” said a statement from the Justice Department. “The gyrocopter was privately owned by Hughes, but had the logo and emblem of the United States Postal Service without authorization.”

Hughes, though, said that he thinks the stunt was still “worth it.”

“To be perfectly clear, I’ll never do that again, but yeah I think it was worth it,” Hughes said on Tusday. “I think that we are seeing the momentum build for reform, and I think that the groups that have been working on this are going to be able to put it over the top in the next few years.”

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