A small helicopter landed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, leading authorities to detain one person in connection with the incident.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that a gyrocopter with a single occupant landed on the lawn. Streets in the immediate area were closed, according to the statement.
Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from Central Florida, took responsibility for the flight on his website, thedemocracyclub.org. Hughes wrote about a "freedom flight" to Washington, D.C., where he planned to deliver letters to each member of Congress.
"My flight is not a secret," he wrote. "Before I took off, I sent an Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The letter is intended to persuade the guardians of the Capitol that I am not a threat and that shooting me down will be a bigger headache than letting me deliver these letters to Congress."
Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request to confirm whether Hughes was the person detained after the incident.
Hughes went to some lengths to publicize his plan. Before the incident, he told the Tampa Bay Times that he planned to fly a gyrocopter to the Capitol to protest against corruption and in favor of campaign finance reform. In particular, he opposes the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which struck down limits on political campaign donations.
He wasn't planning to fly all the way from Florida, according to the Times. First, he intended to drive to an undisclosed location in the D.C. area.
Here's what the Times published earlier on Wednesday:
If you're reading this, Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from Ruskin, has taken flight. His stated intent: to buzz through the air at 45 miles per hour at about 300 feet up in an ultralight gyrocopter toward Washington, D.C., toward protected airspace, where, if his plan works, he'll land on the lawn of the United States Capitol building and deliver the mail.
Of course, Doug Hughes might be shot out of the sky. He knows this. He has thought about it day and night for more than two years, wrestling with the tiniest details of his insane plan.
"No sane person," he said, "would do what I'm doing."
The Tampa Bay Times said it reached out to the Secret Service in Washington and that public information officers were not aware of the protest. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fusion.
Photos from the scene show a copter decorated with a U.S. Postal Service logo.
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.