The Slatest

Gyrocopter Pilot Pleads Not Guilty to Six Charges Both Serious and Surreal

“I can get 70 miles to the gallon on this hog.”

Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Sometimes you have to take a stand. And every so often that stand involves a gyrocopter. Douglas Hughes, the 61-year-old Florida mailman who flew his gyrocopter onto the Capitol grounds last month as a form of protest, appeared in court on Thursday to respond to charges related to his gyrocopter-related principled stand. Hughes, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday, pleaded not guilty to charges that could lead to a prison term of up to nine-and-a-half years.

That’s how committed to campaign finance reform Hughes is. The problem, obviously, is not so much Hughes’ concern with the current state of American campaign finance regulations, the issue is he flew a gyrocopter into some pretty rarified, restricted airspace. Hughes faces six charges for the stunt including violating national defense airspace and not registering his gyrocopter. You’d have to imagine the airspace violation smarts a bit more than the registration misstep. Hughes was also charged for not having proper pilot’s credentials and for sporting an unauthorized Postal Service logo on the side of his craft.

“I accept the consequences of what I did, because I believe it is critical that we return our democracy to the people,” Hughes told reporters. “I will never do anything like this again,” he said. “But I would not do anything different.”