US Military Unaware Gyrocopter Violated DC Airspace

The government has intercept helicopters standing by, but they weren't called.

— -- The United States military says it was unaware that an aircraft had flown into restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., Wednesday and was only alerted of its presence after it landed.

Just before 2 p.m., Douglas Hughes was arrested after landing his gyrocopter on the West front of the United States Capitol building, said U.S. Capitol Police.

Kucharek said the military has MH-65 helicopters on standby at all times in Washington, D.C., for the specific purpose of intercepting slow-moving aircraft, yet none were sent.

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But the incident raises questions as to why no one was able to intercept him before he gained access to the Capitol grounds, particularly if the news media knew about the flight beforehand.

In additional to the media's knowledge, the Secret Service interviewed Hughes last year after learning he may have been planning something for the future, said a spokesman.

Whether authorities had prior knowledge of the plan, Kucharek was skeptical that an aircraft that small could have flown undetected into the restricted airspace. Law enforcement sources said he flew to Washington, D.C., from Cumberland Township in Pennsylvania, more than fifty miles from the capital.

The FAA said the pilot was not in contact with air traffic controllers.

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