Gyrocopter Pilot Says Media Are Focused On The Wrong Message

Doug Hughes, the mail carrier who flew his gyrocopter onto Capitol Hill, launching a full investigation and review of Washington security, told the Associated Press on Sunday he was frustrated that his message wasn't getting through. He said he hoped to raise awareness about the influence of big money in politics by breaking the law and personally flying in 535 letters, one for each member of Congress, that demanded that they get rid of big money in elections. But, to Hughes' disdain, media coverage has been heavily focused on the gaps he revealed in security at the Capitol.

"We've got bigger problems in this country than worrying about whether the security around D.C. is ironclad," Hughes, 61, told The Associated Press. "We need to be worried about the piles of money that are going into Congress."

Hughes spoke to the press as he returned to his home in Florida to await prosecution on charges of violating national airspace and operating an unregistered aircraft, according to the AP. Hughes told the AP that his house arrest begins Monday and that he is required to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet until a court hearing in Washington on May 8. Though Hughes is free on his own recognizance until the hearing, police seized his gyrocopter and the bin carrying the protest letters, according to USA Today.

"The message was two pages long to Congress that they are going to have to face the issue, OK, of campaign-finance reform and honesty and government so that they work for the people," Hughes told the AP.

In an exclusive interview with Ben Montgomery for the Tampa Bay Times, Hughes called his act civil disobedience and said he was shocked as he flew into Washington: He expected to see the National Mall covered with police cars as he approached The Washington Monument, but there was nothing. Well, there was something, but it was just a few awe-struck pedestrians waving at him as he zoomed overhead on Project Kitty Hawk, his 250-pound gyrocopter. So, he waved back to them, hoping police would also see him waving.

"If they see me waving, they might not shoot," he told the Tampa Bay Times, describing his thinking. "Jolly and terrorist don't go together."

Apart from the national security concerns, Hughes' kooky attitude since the landing has also been one of the bigger focuses of media attention.

According to the AP, when reporters outside of his home Sunday asked him if he thought he was crazy or patriotic, he said "everyone gets to make up their own mind about me, that's what I'd say."

But reporters pressed him and asked if he thought he was a patriot. Maybe he cared about big money in Washington because he cared about Americans or democracy?

"No, I'm a mailman," he said.