Flying in completely under the radar came an entirely unexpected visit from a man on a gyrocopter at the United States Capitol, and no one knows how he pulled it off. The man has now been identified as 61-year-old Doug Hughes, who says he has been planning this patriotic act for over two years, and had even been interviewed about it. People are very curious about what this means as far as homeland security. Hughes was able to land with letters and all; completely unscathed.
Hughes talked about his plan several different times, and explained that there was nothing dangerous about this approach, saying that a Boy Scout with a BB gun could have shot him down. He also said he had 535 letters to Congress concerning financial reform, and that the gyrocopter landing was his way of doing something for his country. He also said he thought several times that he should walk away from doing this stunt, but that he would rather die during the flight than watch this country fall, deciding it was time to take it straight to the United States Capitol.
It was something very unexpected for most, who had never heard of his plans to do this. After all, he is a mailman from Florida, and at his age, you would not think that doing something this risky would be something he would think to do, but he is very passionate about it. He loves this country and believes that something needs to be done about all of the things that are happening right now.
As far as what is going on with him and the laws he has broken, he was arrested at the scene on Wednesday, April 15, by U.S. Capitol Police, and charged under Title 49 of U.S. Code. Supposedly, the Secret Service were investigating a small airport in Pennsylvania where they believe Hughes could have taken off in his gyrocopter to make his unexpected visit to the United States Capitol. He definitely succeeded in the surprise factor, but he was expecting to be shot down at the very least.
Someone close to Hughes knew that this civil act of disobedience would also be a federal crime. There were other instances before this stunt that he was visited and questioned by the Secret Service. He was always very honest and forthcoming, and explained that he was not a violent person, nor would he be crashing into any buildings. His only goal was to draw attention to campaign finance reform. He definitely has everyone’s attention now, especially those that were close to the United States Capitol at the time of the stunt.
Hughes notified the Times before the flight, and the newspaper was writing an article on their website about his plans as he was doing it. They also called authorities to see if they had been alerted of the stunt. Sgt. Trina Hamilton from the Commander’s Office explained that nothing had been reported. Meanwhile, Hughes was in flight towards the United States Capitol, with live stream from his camera showing where he was.
Hughes knew he would probably lose his job, his freedom and his house, among other things that are precious to him. He also knew that it would take something big like this to get people to look in the right direction and take notice of what is going on in our country, especially what is going on at the United States Capitol.
The idea for the stunt began when Hughes’ son committed suicide by driving head-on into another driver. After experiencing that kind of grief, he said that something changed in him, and he did not want all of these little political things he had talked about to be for naught. He knew the risk he was taking, but knew that it was worth it, and was afraid he would lose his nerve. However, it was too important to him to not follow through. Hughes believed that it would have a profound effect on people, especially because it was close to the United States Capitol.
After appearing in court, Hughes was released and has been told he is on home detention. He has to check in with authorities weekly. His action has people talking about whether the country is safe and if Homeland Security is doing an effective job. People are also very concerned about the lack of action taken after he publicly explained how he would be carrying out these plans to unexpectedly fly into the United States Capitol’s air space. Hughes is most likely relieved to be alive and not in prison, but most importantly to have accomplished what he had planned for years.
By Brooke Latu
Photo by Ryan Bowley-Flickr License