Gyrocopter's Flight to the US Capitol: How It Unfolded

The pilot is now in custody after crashing the small chopper.

ByABC News
April 15, 2015, 3:57 PM

— -- A political protester took his grievances to the air today in a long-planned plot reportedly to deliver a message to members of Congress.

As details of how a man was able to fly into restricted airspace in the heart of the nation's capital are starting to come out, one of the biggest questions is how was someone able to not only plan such an act of civil disobedience, but also able to carry it out even after he allegedly notified the Secret Service of his plans ahead of time.

The person with most of those answers has been identified by his local newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times, as Doug Hughes was intent on delivering a special message to legislators about campaign finance.

Here are some of the key moments connected to this case:

Late Last Week

According to The Tampa Bay Times, Hughes drove from Florida to an undisclosed location near D.C., carrying the gyrocopter in a trailer. In the months leading up to his starting point, the newspaper reports that he had bought a burner cell phone, built a website dedicated to the cause and even tested out a livestream so that he could share the experience online in real time.

Today, 12:11 p.m. ET

The Tampa Bay Times posted their lengthy article with accompanying video interview online.

"If you're reading this, Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from Ruskin, has taken flight," the story begins.

While Hughes' hometown paper likely had the most prior knowledge about the stunt, they were not the only ones to receive notification.

They reported that Hughes had arranged a delayed email blast to news stations and the secret service, hoping that in understanding that he is non-violent, perhaps the Secret Service would avoid shooting him down.

PHOTO: A small device resembling a helicopter is seen on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, April 15, 2015, after landing.
A small device resembling a helicopter is seen on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, April 15, 2015, after landing.

1:15 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Times called the Secret Service headquarters in D.C. to see if they had been notified of Hughes' plans, but a spokesman said that they had not received any warning.

"He hasn't notified anybody. We have no information," a sergeant in the watch commander's office for the Capitol Police told the paper.

1:42 p.m.

The U.S. Capitol Police issue a statement saying that they are investigating a single occupant gyro copter that has landed on the grassy area in the West Lawn of the Capitol.

At that point, the individual was not publicly identified by authorities who just noted that the person had been detained and nearby roads closed.

2:07 p.m.

ABC News confirmed that representatives from the FBI were on the scene and a robot was being used by Capitol Police to clear any hazardous material from the vehicle.

3:25 p.m.

The copter was seen being moved from the lawn after being put in a trailer attached to the back of a police pick up truck.

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