Gyrocopter pilot pleads not guilty
© Francis Rivera

The Florida mailman indicted for flying his unregistered gyrocopter through restricted airspace and landing on the U.S. Capitol lawn last month pleaded not guilty to six charges on Thursday. 

Doug Hughes appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C., where he entered his plea. He faces nearly a decade in prison if convicted on the two felony counts and four misdemeanors.


Hughes was indicted on felony counts for flying without a pilot's certificate and not registering his aircraft, and on multiple misdemeanor counts for flying in restricted airspace. 

The postal worker was also indicted for attaching the logo of his employer, the U.S. Postal Service, to his aircraft, despite being on leave during the April 15 incident and not in D.C. on official business. 

Hughes flew from Gettysburg, Pa., to Washington D.C., where he was arrested after landing on the West Lawn of the Capitol. Hughes's stunt raised questions about airspace security in and around the nation's capital. Lawmakers last month grilled Capitol Police officials about the incident.

On his flight, Hughes carried 535 letters, one for each member of Congress, protesting the influence of money in politics. He has noted that no one was injured during his exploits nor any property damaged. 

Hughes is barred from entering the city for anything other than court hearings or meetings with his lawyer. And he must wear a GPS tracker because he is prohibited from visiting the Capitol, White House or nearby areas. 

He was previously under home detention, but a judge ruled Thursday that he can travel within his home county in Florida.

Hughes will appear in court again next Wednesday.