Gyrocopter Pilot Indicted for Flight to U.S. Capitol

A federal grand jury indicted the gyrocopter pilot who landed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on six charges.

Douglas Hughes, 61, of Ruskin, Florida, faces up to nine and a half years in prison. He is charged with two felonies — operating as an airman without an airman’s certificate and violating registration requirements involving aircraft — and four misdemeanors. The misdemeanors include three counts of violation of national defense airspace and one count of operating a vehicle falsely labeled as a postal carrier.

Hughes steered his small gyrocopter through protected Washington airspace for 30 miles from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to the U.S. Capitol April. He apparently wanted to draw attention to campaign finance corruption.

Hughes flew through three no-fly zones, according to the government.

He was on leave from the U.S. Postal Service when he made his flight, but the gyrocopter bore the logo and emblem of the U.S. Postal Service without authorization.

Hughes has been free on personal recognizance and on home detention in Florida since the incident. Arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.

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