Protest Flight: Guy Lands Small Copter at Capitol

Florida postal carrier was reportedly protesting campaign finance laws
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2015 1:21 PM CDT
Updated Apr 15, 2015 2:16 PM CDT
A member of a bomb squad approaches a small helicopter after it landed on the West Lawn of the Capitol.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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(Newser) – A pilot has been taken into custody after landing a small copter on the lawn at the US Capitol today, reports CNN. Capitol Police confirm that a "gyro copter with a single occupant" landed of the pilot's own accord—though most definitely without permission to fly in restricted airspace. The pilot has not been officially identified, but the Tampa Bay Times says a Florida postal carrier named Doug Hughes pulled the stunt as a protest against what he sees as weak campaign finance laws. Rep. Mike McCaul, chair of the House Homeland Security panel, tells the AP that Capitol Police were ready to shoot him down if he'd gone much closer.

"He's not a suicide bomber, he's a patriot," a friend of Hughes' tells the Tampa newspaper. Hughes apparently hatched an idea about a year ago to deliver letters to every member of Congress via his aircraft. "As I have informed the authorities, I have no violent inclinations or intent," Hughes wrote on his website, "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." The incident sent the Capitol and nearby streets into a brief lockdown. It's not the only strange incident to hit DC airspace recently.

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