Man Arrested After Landing Gyrocopter By Capitol

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(Updated)

A Florida mailman landed his gyrocopter by the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Wednesday afternoon and was promptly arrested. Doug Hughes now faces federal charges including airspace violations after flying into the restricted area as part of a long-planned effort to protest government corruption. According to the Tampa Bay Times, a federal judge ruled Thursday he'll be released to home detention in Tampa Bay. He can leave home to travel to Washington for court proceedings. He is not allowed to operate an aircraft or go near the Capitol or White House, the judge ruled.

Hughes, 61, took the aircraft by trailer to a location near Washington, and on the flight he had with him 535 letters in envelopes addressed to members of Congress, the Times reported. The Secret Service found out about Hughes last year, visited him at his home and also questioned a friend. Hughes confirmed to the agent he owned a gyrocopter and wanted to do something with it to get attention, but had no plans to harm people or property, the newspaper reported. Hughes wrote in a Web posting that he’s the son of a private pilot. “There will be apprehension about the threat posed by any aircraft that defies the no-fly zone,” he wrote. “I’m as curious as anyone what the response will be. Maybe more … 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.” His friend, who had the number of the visiting Secret Service agent, called and left a message Wednesday after Hughes told him he was taking off in his gyrocopter. Capitol police arrested him after his landing and closed streets in the area, and the Capitol building was briefly under lockdown, CNN reported.