ABC News Exclusive: Gyrocopter Pilot Wasn’t Worried About Getting Shot Down
ABC News(RUSKIN, Fla.) — The Florida mailman who flew a gyrocopter through restricted airspace and landed on the Capitol lawn last week said he made “every effort” to notify authorities ahead of his flight — and said he wasn’t worried about getting shot down.
“I don’t know if that message didn’t get through, but I made every effort to give them advance notice because I didn’t want to get shot down and, thankfully, I wasn’t,” Doug Hughes told ABC News Monday.
Hughes is under house arrest at his Ruskin, Florida, home following his flight from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Washington, D.C. He was charged with operating an unregistered aircraft and violating national airspace, and faces a potential four years in prison, plus fines.
Hughes was hoping to distribute letters to members of Congress, attempting to raise awareness about monetary influence in politics.
Hughes said he enjoyed his flight.
“At the time that I was flying up the Capitol Mall, and it was a huge thrill, I wasn’t worried about getting shot down. I was worried about my flying, and I was getting focused on making my landing, and I think that’s the same thing that every pilot does when they’re making a final approach,” he said. “This is different than any other landing I’ve made, and it had a very surreal nature to it. I didn’t have a hand free to pinch myself to see if it was happening, but that’s what was happening.”
Despite being able to land on the lawn, Hughes said he doesn’t believe Washington, D.C., has a security problem.
“The security around D.C. is ironclad,” he said. “I seriously suspect that if you were to get into a gyro tomorrow, it wouldn’t work.”
Though the Secret Service had learned of Hughes’ general plan more than a year earlier, federal authorities insisted they had no reason to know he would actually carry it out.
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