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Postal Worker Lands Gyrocopter On US Capitol Lawn In Protest

April 15, 2015 - On Wednesday, about 1:23 PM, 61 year old Doug Hughes, a postal worker in Florida landed his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The gyrocopter was fitted for and carried 535 letters of protest for campaign finance which were addressed to the 535 members of Congress. 

Following September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center's Twin Towers there was a no-fly zone set up around most of Washington DC government buildings. When Hughes placed his gyrocopter on a trailer and drove up to Pennsylvanian from Florida, then departed in the gyrocopter, and headed down National Mall and landed in front of the Capitol he was very lucky that he was not shot out of the sky. 


Although the Capital Police, Secret Service and DC police were aware of Hughes intentions, he was very lucky that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was not given the command to shoot him down. Hughes wrote in a blog before the flight "The point of the flight is to spotlight corruption in DC and more importantly, to present the solution(s) to the institutional graft."

"Let me assure you, as I have informed the authorities, I have no violent inclinations or intent. An ultralight aircraft poses no major physical threat, it may present a political threat to graft. I hope so. There’s no need to worry, I’m just delivering the mail. This isn’t my regular route."



"The situation, as I see it, is this a sold-out Congress, a network of corporate clients and lobbyists prepared to generously reward Congres-critters who vote as they are sold told, the network and cable media, who should be the safety valve in a functioning democracy, but is fully enlisted in the scheme."

"Anybody in politics or the news media who want to spend inordinate amounts of time talking about me is avoiding the real discussion, which is about Congress. “It’s not about me.” is a truism more true about an old mailman from Florida that it’s ever been about anyone. There are concrete plans for reform and great communicators ... Let’s keep the discussion focused on reform, not me, I’m just delivering the mail." Upon landing, Hughes surrendered without incident.

The FAA is working with its aviation security partners in the DC area to investigate this incident. The pilot was not in contact with FAA air traffic controllers and the FAA did not authorize him to enter restricted airspace. Airspace security rules that cover the Capitol and the District of Columbia prohibit private aircraft flights without prior coordination and permission. Violators may face civil and criminal penalties under 14CFR Part 93V.

House Homeland Security panel Chairman Michael McCaul said authorities were prepared to shoot him down if he had made it much closer to the Capitol. Had it gotten any closer to the speaker's balcony, they have long guns to take it down, but it didn't. It landed right in front."

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