On Wednesday, a Florida man flew a gyrocopter into Washington, D.C., and landed it just outside the U.S. Capitol in an apparent protest to the current campaign finance system. A bomb squad quickly arrived at the scene but no threat was detected.
The man is currently held in custody, while the charges he must face are pending.
One pedestrian filmed the whole scene. In the video you can see the mini-copter flying in a no-fly zone, getting past the National Mall, a row of trees and the statue of Ulysses S. Grant just outside the Capitol. The pilot smoothly manages to land the tiny craft on the Capitol’s lawn to the amusement of a group of onlookers.
According to their official schedule, both Houses were in session at the time of the incident. Seconds after the landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn, the Capitol Police arrested Douglas Hughes from Ruskin, Florida. At around 1:30 p.m. the man was already in heading to the city jail.
The police reported that there was nobody else on board of the gyrocopter except for Hughes. The aircraft was searched for bombs or other hazardous items and was eventually moved to a secure location.
Hughes took full responsibility for what he described as “an act of civil disobedience” on a website. According to that site, the Florida man planned to hand out more than 530 letters to the members of Congress.
In those letters, Hughes warned politicians that the chase for money was a real threat to the U.S. democracy itself. As a result, he demanded a reform and declared a “voter’s rebellion.”
Hughes was aware before taking off that authorities could have shot him down at any moment. He wrote on his site that he had no control over authorities’ overreaction. However, he made sure he informed them on his intentions beforehand and that he meant no harm.
“I am not a threat and that shooting me down would be a bigger headache than letting me deliver these letters,”
he wrote in an e-mail sent to President Obama days before the takeoff. Hughes flew about an hour before landing on the U.S. Capitol lawn.
But authorities knew about Hughes’ plans since October 4, 2013, when a “concerned citizen” briefed them that the man wanted to land an aircraft on either the U.S. Capitol’s or the White House’s grounds. Back then, the Secret Service did not identify Hughes, but reported that he was interviewed on October 5, 2013.
However, the Secret Service hadn’t been warned beforehand about Hughes’ intentions to perform the Wednesday’s stunt.
The letters that the Florida man planned to deliver to congressional members underlined a series of hot issues related to politics corruption and the necessity of a campaign finance reform. Hughes, 61, who was in fact a mailman, chose the unique way to deliver the letters, by “air mail” as he puts it, to draw attention to the campaign finance reform.
The newspaper which had published his letter in full an hour before the Capitol landing reported that Hughes discussed with one of its reporters about his plans last summer.
Image Source: Japan Times