Newspaper Knew About Gyrocopter Stunt on Capitol Hill In Advance
How on Earth did he get so far?
That's what America is asking today after a pilot buzzed Washington D. C. in a one-man gyrocopter before coming to a soft landing on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building.
"This is not good, people," shouted one bystander.
Pierre Thoms, Senior Justice Correspondent for ABC News reported, "It was an utter security failure, and sources say, a wake up call."
Even more troubling, the knucklehead on board had told a newspaper reporter in advance about his stunt, saying, "I'm going to land on the Capitol lawn."
Sixty-one-year-old Doug Hughes, a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service told the Tampa Bay Times his crazy stunt was intended to bring attention to campaign finance reform.
"I'm not suidical. I'm not going to commit suicide and I'm not going to fly into any monuments," said Hughes.
Hughes took off from Gettysburg, PA., and incredibly went undetected through a no-fly zone bristling with anti-aircraft missiles, the so-called P-56 Zone.
He flew past the White House, past the Washington Monument, along the National Mall. Video show hughes flying past the White House. He came shockingly close to some of America's most precious landmarks.
As he came in for a landing, just a few feet off the ground, a witness said, "What just happened?" One tourist caught the dramatic moment his stunt reached its climax.
Law enforcement raced to the site the moment the aircraft landed. Hughes was taken into custody as the bomb squad checked out the gyrocopter.
INSIDE EDITION's Les Trent spoke to Ben Montgomery, the Tampa Bay Times reporter who knew about Hughes' plan, and asked, "You've heard the criticism today. People are saying, couldn't you guys have done more to alert the authorities to what he had planned?"
Montgomery replied, "The Secret Service interviewed him twice a year ago. The authorities knew. He was on their radar. When he was in the air, one of my colleagues called the authorities to say, 'Do you know there's a man headed toward the no-fly zone in a gyrocopter?'"
So, what's it like flying a gyrocopter? Enthusiasts were out in force at an air field in La Chua, Florida today.
Bob Snyder's company AutoGyro builds one fancy version of the flying machine. He says he's horrified by what Hughes did.
"We're trying to promote safety, and part of that safety is decision making. Obviously, that pilot didn't make the right decision," said Snyder.
In the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery flies a gyrocopter that's heavily armed.
Hughes' family has hit the headlines under dramatic circumstances before. His 24-year-old son committed suicide by driving head-on into another vehicle two years ago. The other driver was also killed.