Sunday 20 August 2017

Man lands gyrocopter on Capitol lawn to give message to Congress

A member of the Bomb Squad works to check and secure a gyrocopter that landed outside the US Capitol
A member of the Bomb Squad works to check and secure a gyrocopter that landed outside the US Capitol

Billy House

US Capitol Police are investigating the landing of a gyrocopter with a single occupant on the Capitol lawn that prompted a brief lockdown of the building.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Kimberly Schneider said one person was detained and that streets were temporarily closed in the immediate area yesterday. A lockdown of the Capitol building in Washington was later lifted.

Authorities didn't immediately release the man's identity or his reason for the landing. The 'Tampa Bay Times' reported that the pilot was 61-year-old postal worker Doug Hughes of Ruskin, Florida. The newspaper said Hughes planned the flight as a way to deliver a message about campaign-finance laws.

The newspaper also said a friend of Hughes had called a Secret Service official earlier today and left a message warning about Hughes's planned stunt.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot "was not in contact with FAA air traffic controllers and the FAA did not authorise him to enter restricted airspace".

Violators of airspace security rules may face civil and criminal penalties, the agency said in a statement.

Authorities declined to say how the pilot was able to land so close to the US Capitol, about 100 yards in front of the building, or whether they were aware of his intentions beforehand. Schneider said bomb squad members were sent to the craft and found nothing hazardous.

Most flights lower than 18,000 feet are prohibited from entering a circle about 15 miles from the Capitol, according to the FAA.

Irish Independent

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