Gyrocopter Pilot Calls Capitol Flight An Act Of Civil Disobedience

May 21, 2015
Originally published on May 21, 2015 7:07 pm
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The Florida mailman who landed his gyrocopter outside the Capitol last month is back in Washington. Doug Hughes was in Federal District Court pleading not guilty to a six-count indictment. NPR's Peter Overby spoke to Hughes about his controversial trip and why he made it.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Outside the courthouse, Hughes called his flight an act of civil disobedience.

DOUG HUGHES: I'm not eager for jail time. On the other hand, I took responsibility for what I did.

OVERBY: He faces felonies for flying without a pilot's certificate or aircraft registration, also three misdemeanors for violating national defense airspace and one more for owning a vehicle falsely labeled as a postal carrier. The gyrocopter, a smaller, less complicated relative of helicopters. Hughes had put Postal Service markings on it. Speaking to NPR earlier today, Hughes said flying through downtown Washington was a calculated risk, but he found a great place to land.

HUGHES: I actually gunned it up a little bit, climbed, went over the pool kind of around the monument, throttled it back, and set it down on the slope grass right in front of the building.

OVERBY: The gyrocopter with carrying his letters to members of the House and Senate, but he really meant to reach American voters.

HUGHES: People created the Congress, OK? This government is our invention, and we still have the power.

OVERBY: Hughes himself does not have much power right now. His house arrest is over, but he can't leave his home county in Florida, and he still has to wear a GPS ankle bracelet. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.