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Aircraft That Flew On Capitol Lawn To Be Destroyed


Authorities plan to destroy a helicopter-like aircraft that made headlines when its owner flew it on to the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in 2015 as a political protest.

A U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman says the destruction of the gyrocopter likely will occur within weeks.

The craft's former owner, Ruskin, Florida, resident Douglas Hughes, pleaded guilty to operating a gyrocopter without a license for his April 15, 2015, flight in the bare-bones aircraft to the Capitol's West Lawn. Hughes forfeited the aircraft as part of a plea deal. He was sentenced to four months in prison.

Forfeited property can be sold, but Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said Monday in an e-mail Monday that "Its sale would not be appropriate considering its role in his irresponsible and unlawful act last year."

In flying from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to the U.S. Capitol, Hughes violated airspace restrictions around the nation's capital — some of the most restricted airspace in the nation. Hughes said his stunt was a way to call attention to the influence of big money in politics and protest government corruption.

A mailman at the time of his flight, he was carrying a letter for each member of Congress. He had a Postal Service logo on the tail of his aircraft.

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