Gyrocopter pilot: 'My flying days are over'
© Tampa Bay Times

The man who flew his gyrocopter under the radar into Washington and landed on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol acknowledges that his piloting days may be over.


"When I return to Washington for my arraignment in federal court this week, it will be by car, not gyrocopter. My flying days are over, perhaps forever," Doug Hughes wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

"Accepting responsibility for my actions means I accept their consequences, which I always took seriously," Hughes wrote, noting that no one was injured nor any property damaged during his stunt.

"As my freedom rests in the court’s hands, my hope is that Americans will understand why I took the risk to deliver them a message: We the people must pay attention to democracy," Hughes added.

The Florida letter carrier raised questions over the security of restricted airspace in and around Washington, D.C. last month when he landed his small, low-flying aircraft on Capitol grounds before being arrested.

Hughes, 61, was carrying 535 letters to Congress, one for every member, to protest the influence of money in politics, he said, casting his stunt as an act of civil disobedience.

Lawmakers have grilled officials with multiple federal agencies on how the civilian managed to fly his copter from near Gettysburg, Pa. to Washington without raising flags.

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said that Hughes had "a point about the pervasive influence of money in politics," though said he did not condone entering restricted airspace.

"I have faith in a jury of my peers and will accept whatever consequence I must," Hughes wrote in his op-ed over the weekend.

"I simply hope by putting my freedom on the line, others might realize how precious their freedom is and join those of us engaged in this fight to preserve and protect our government of, by and for the people."