Gyrocopter Pilot: What We Know About Doug Hughes

Pilot is a 61-year-old Postal Service worker from Florida.

ByAvianne Tan
April 15, 2015, 10:26 PM

— -- The pilot of a small helicopter that landed on the U.S. Capitol's West lawn in Washington, D.C., this afternoon has been arrested, according to Capitol Police.

U.S. Capitol Police identified the pilot as Doug Hughes, who was profiled in the Tampa Bay Times after he reportedly contacted the newspaper to share his plan to deliver a political message to the Capitol similar to what played out there today. Charges against him are pending.

Here's what we know about Hughes so far:

Who Is Doug Hughes?

Hughes is a 61-year-old mailman, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The U.S. Postal Service confirmed that he is a rural letter carrier.

In a video in the newspaper's story, Hughes says he flies a "gyro-plane," which he describes as a "flying bicycle."

PHOTO: Doug Hughes, a mail man from Ruskin, Fla. is seen in this file photo taken before Hughes flew a gyrocopter onto the lawn the US Capitol to deliver notes to Congress about campaign finance, April 15, 2015.
Doug Hughes, a mail man from Ruskin, Fla. is seen in this file photo taken before Hughes flew a gyrocopter onto the lawn the US Capitol to deliver notes to Congress about campaign finance, April 15, 2015.
James Borchuck/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Hughes is also apparently the vice president of "The Civilist Papers," a blog claiming to be a non-profit advocating for U.S. Congress reform, according to the blog's "About Us" page.

What Does Doug Hughes Want?

The video on the Tampa Bay Times website says he wants "to draw attention to campaign finance reform" by delivering "letters to Congress asking them to change the campaign finance laws."

In the video, Hughes then adds he's going to "nonviolently" fly his gyrocopter into the "no-fly-zone" and land it "in front of the Capitol Building."

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.
Lauren Victoria Burke/AP Photo

"I'm going to have 535 letters strapped to the landing gear in boxes, and those letters are gonna be addressed to every member of Congress," he says.

Why Deliver Letters to Congress Via Gyrocopter?

He explains in the video: "I'm delivering the message right to them not for their sake but for the impact that it will have because I'm trying to galvanize millions of people to do a relatively simple thing -- change the government to build a wall of separation between the government and big money, so the government will represent the people."

Hughes also emphasized he didn't see himself as a terrorist.

"I'm not suicidal, and I'm not going to commit suicide, and I'm not going to fly into any monuments," he says in the video. "Terrorists don't announce their flights before they take off, okay? Terrorists don't broadcast their flight path. Terrorists don't invite an escort to go along with them."

At the end of the video, Hughes says, "I'd rather die in flight than live to be 80 years old and see this country fall."

When Did Doug Hughes Plan the Flight?

Hughes has been thinking about this for over two years, the Tampa Bay Times reported, adding he loaded his gyrocopter onto a trailer last Friday and left Florida on Saturday to "tow his gyrocopter to an airport in Virginia to carry out his protest."

PHOTO: A photo posted to Twitter shows a gyrocopter (circled) which landed on the lawn of the US Capitol, leading to the arrest of the pilot, April 15, 2015.
A photo posted to Twitter shows a gyrocopter (circled) which landed on the lawn of the US Capitol, leading to the arrest of the pilot, April 15, 2015.
@RonHaskell/Twitter

So Did Authorities Know About the Flight in Advance?

In the video, Hughes says he's going to give authorities "plenty of warning well over an hour in advance of me getting to the no-fly zone, so they know who I am, and what I'm doing and that it's intended to be non-violent."

U.S. Capitol Police and other federal officials did not tell ABC News whether othey were warned about the small helicopter flying and landing in advance.

Where Can I See The Whole Video Outlining Doug Hughes' Plan?

The entire video, originally uploaded by The Tampa Bay Times, can be viewed below:

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