WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Terror in the sky. After a small, one man aircraft lands on Capitol grounds. It sent the nation’s capital into high alert.
Christie Ileto explains the pilot said he was trying to make a point.
U.S. Capitol Police say Douglas Hughes intentionally steered the chopper yards from the Capitol. According to his website, he had a very special message for Congress.
The landing sent the Capitol into lockdown. Witnesses captured chaotic moments immediately after U.S. Capitol Police say 61-year-old Douglas Hughes–a Florida mailman–steered a gyrocopter onto Capitol Hill’s west lawn.
“Before we knew it, the police were coming from all over and the bomb squads and the dogs and they were dragging the guy out,” one tourist said.
Police scrambled to arrest Hughes. Florida tourists Harvey and Vikki stood stunned.
“It was unbelievable. The fellow who was piloting this thing just kind of drifted down, sat down and waited to be surrounded. He didn’t look violent in any way,” one tourist said.
Hughes made his intentions public in a video from the Tampa Bay Times. He was delivering a message to each member of Congress demanding campaign reform.
Areas like the White House and at Capitol Hill have no fly zone restrictions. In a video, Hughes said he knew the risks, but still landed his chopper just 100 yards away.
But the surprise landing exposes a bigger problem.
“That a determined individual was able to get through the security barriers that exist here in the nation’s capital. That ought to concern all of us,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, (D) Virginia.
And it’s raising questions.
“What are we going to do to protect ourselves in the future?” asked one tourist.
And how can a small, one man aircraft sneak through restricted airspace undetected until it lands?
Investigators searched Hughes’ chopper and found no hazardous materials.
Hughes is in custody. He could face civil and criminal charges.