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Capital Gyrocopter Pilot Rejects Plea Deal

  • VOA News

Douglas Hughes, the gyrocopter pilot who landed on the west front of the U.S. Capitol, talks with reporters outside of Federal Court after a status hearing in Washington, June 22, 2015.

Douglas Hughes, the gyrocopter pilot who landed on the west front of the U.S. Capitol, talks with reporters outside of Federal Court after a status hearing in Washington, June 22, 2015.

The man arrested for illegally landing a gyrocopter on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington has rejected a plea deal that would have put him in prison for several years.

Douglas Hughes said he rejected the offer at a hearing Monday in federal court in Washington. He told The Associated Press he did not think significant jail time was a fair punishment for what he described as an act of civil disobedience in which no one was hurt.

Hughes said his case will now likely go to trial. He faces six charges and could face up to nine years in prison.

He had said he landed the gyrocopter in April as an act of civil disobedience to bring attention to campaign finance reform and is government corruption.

An unauthorized homemade gyrocopter lands on the U.S. Capitol grounds, April 15, 2015.

An unauthorized homemade gyrocopter lands on the U.S. Capitol grounds, April 15, 2015.

​Tourists visiting the Capitol were stunned to see the aircraft, known as a gyrocopter, settle on the lawn a few hundred meters from the building. Police immediately placed part of Capitol Hill on lockdown while dogs and a robot detector checked the copter for possible explosives.

Airspace around Washington is highly restricted for security reasons. Any aircraft flying into the restricted zone risks being shot down.

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