Man lands aircraft on Capitol grounds attempting to deliver letters to Congress
A mailman, apparently intent on delivering letters to every member of Congress, landed his gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the Capitol Grounds. The letters contained a call for changes in campaign financing, and that money be taken out of politics in general.
According to CNN, around 1:30 p.m. the aircraft, which was not noticed by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), was sighted, as it approached. Hughes was immediately taken into custody by Capitol Police.
A bomb squad investigated the aircraft, and when nothing dangerous was found, transported it to a secure location. Hughes was incarcerated, and charges are pending.
President Obama was briefed on the incident, as the entire Capitol grounds were shut down for hours, causing disturbance and curiosity in the surrounding areas.
The Tampa Bay Times had a reporter following Hughes to cover the story, and it was this reporter that first identified Hughes as a mailman in a rural Florida community. Hughes’ wife, federal law enforcement confirmed his identity as well.
Hughes had been employed by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) since 2003. The Postal Service Office of Inspector General is handling the matter for the USPS, but would make not comment on whether others knew of the plan, or what will become of Hughes as a USPS employee.
The bizarre plan apparently began to take shape in Hughes’ mind after his son committed suicide, according to Ben Montgomery. the reporter that was following Hughes.
Hughes flew out of the Gettysburg airport in Pennsylvania, according to a law enforcement source. His vehicle and the trailer used to transport the gyrocopter are there, and Secret Service agents have been deployed to investigate.
The Secret Service had already had contact with Hughes, interviewing him in 2013 when an anonymous tipster let them know that he wanted to land his aircraft at the Capitol.
Regarding Hughes’ motivation to deliver letters to Congress members, Mike Shanahan, a friend of Hughes for years, had this to say, “”He’s upset that politicians can be bought and sold at auction, and I agree with him. That’s the point he’s trying [to make]” Shanahan said. “Happy he made it alive. I want to thank the people who decided not to kill him.”
Although the landing caused initial chaos, lockdowns have now been lifted, and closed streets reopened.