Postal Updates

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

USPS worker lands gyrocopter on Capitol grounds

April 15, 2015 03:08 PM

A 61-year-old United States Postal Service worker from Florida was arrested by U.S. Capitol police after he landed a tiny one-man gyrocopter on the grounds of the Capitol April 15.

Doug Hughes of Ruskin, Fla., had told the Tampa Bay Times he was going to ignore a no-fly zone around Washington because he wanted to deliver letters to every member of Congress complaining about its inattention to the country’s problems.

"No sane person would do what I am doing," he told the paper in an interview.

The landing of the small craft, emblazoned with a Postal Service logo, drew lots of attention from national media.

Witnesses said the pilot appeared to be wearing a postal uniform.

"I am not a violent person," Hughes told the newspaper. "All I want to do is to draw attention."

The paper said he had purchased $250 worth of stamps and stuffed 535 two-page letters into 535 envelopes addressed to the lawmakers.

Hughes said his plan was to take his small plane to the Washington area, alert police to his plans and to fly the plane directly to the Capitol at a speed of 45 miles an hour and at a height of about 300 feet.

Federal prosecutors charged Hughes with two felonies: knowingly operating an unregistered aircraft, and flying into a national defense air space.

The former carries a possible 3-year prison sentence and a fine, and the later carries a one-year prison sentence and a fine.

A federal magistrate allowed Hughes to return to Florida pending a preliminary hearing in May. She directed him to remain at his home and prohibited him from flying any aircraft.

Hughes appeared in court wearing the same postal uniform he wore when he was arrested after landing his craft at the Capitol.