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US Air Defense Did Not Detect Gyrocopter Pilot Flying Into Nation's Capitol; Brave Mailman Was Not Worried About Being 'Shot Down'

US Air Defense Did Not Detect Gyrocopter Pilot Flying Into Nation's Capitol; Brave Mailman Was Not Worried About Being 'Shot Down'

People watch as a gyro copter that was flown onto the grounds of the U.S. Capitol is towed from the west front lawn in Washington, April 15, 2015. A bomb squad has determined there was nothing hazardous on the small, open-air helicopter that landed on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, the U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement, adding that the "gyro copter" will be moved to a secure location. | (Photo: Reuters/James Lawler Duggan)

The Florida mailman made famous for flying a gyrocopter onto the U.S. Capitol lawn in an effort to urge Congress to reform the campaign finance system recently admitted that he never feared being shot down by authorities.

"I don't know if that message didn't get through, but I made every effort to give them advance notice because I didn't want to get shot down and, thankfully, I wasn't," Doug Hughes, the pilot who flew the copter, told "Good Morning America" on Monday.

Hughes was arrested and faces four years in prison and fines. His flight was not detected, according to a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman.

"Air defense systems did not detect the copter as it entered restricted airspace about Washington, said the spokesman for the organization. "No one tried to stop the gyrocopter, which sounds like a lawnmower and looks like a flying bridge chair."

The Washington Post reports that Hughes "landed with a little bounce on a broad expanse of grass on the foot of Capitol Hill." He sat inside the cockpit for a minute and was surrounded by U.S. Capitol Police who then took him into custody.

Hughes discussed his landing with fomer advisor to President Bill Clinton and GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos.

"At the time I was flying up the Capitol Mall, and it was a huge thrill, I wasn't worried about getting shot down," he said. I was worried about my flying and I was getting focused on making my landing, and I think that's the same thing that every pilot does when they're making a final approach," he said. "This is different than any other landing I've made, and it had a very surreal nature to it. I didn't have a hand free to pinch myself to see if it was happening, but that's what was happening."

The Secret Service admitted to knowing about Hughes' plan a year prior, but did not believe he'd actually carry it out.

Hughes used the copter to make a statement and hoped to hand out letters to members of Congress in order to raise awareness about monetary influence in politics. His disdain for the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission where the Court decided that political ads from groups outside a candidate's campaign were a form of "political speech" and therefore did away with the limits on how much corporations and unions could spend on political advocacy ads is part of the driving force of his actions.

Hughes feels the decision has now put the power of elections in the hands of the rich as campaign spending from outside groups have increased significantly since that decision.


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