The man who landed a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of Washington, DC's Capitol Building last month is facing up to nine and a half years in prison. Sixty-one-year-old Douglas Hughes, who organized the flight to protest corruption in the US government, has today been indicted of six charges, including operating as an airman without an airman's certificate, violating aircraft registration requirements, and violating national defense airspace.
Hughes "should have been blown out of the air."
Hughes, who lives in Florida and has worked as a postal carrier, took off from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on April 15th in a gyrocopter bearing the logo of the US Postal Service. He said his flight was intended to question the influence of big money in US politics, but the stunt spurred a different conversation in the Capitol — a Congressional hearing took place late last month to discuss the safety of the city's airspace. Speaking at the hearing, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said Hughes was "lucky to be alive" and "should have been blown out of the air."
While Hughes' flight was a crewed mission, the rise of affordable drones means authorities are increasingly having to deal with potential threats coming from the air. In January, a drone crash-landed on the White House lawn, and in Japan, a drone bearing a radiation symbol landed on the roof of an office used by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.