Small Aircraft Lands on Capitol Lawn, Pilot in Custody

Small Aircraft Lands on Capitol Lawn, Pilot in Custody

Staff Report
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Police at the U.S. Capitol aren't yet identifying the man who steered a tiny, one-person helicopter onto the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol today.

But a Florida postal carrier named Doug Hughes is taking responsibility for the stunt on a website, where he said he was delivering letters to all 535 members of Congress in order to draw attention to campaign finance corruption.

Hughes wrote that he has "no violent inclinations or intent." He says the small aircraft "poses no major physical threat" -- but that it "may present a political threat to graft."

The chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, Michael McCaul of Texas, says the pilot landed on his own -- but that if he had gone much closer to the Capitol, authorities were prepared to shoot him down.

Witnesses said the craft approached the Capitol from the west, flying low over the National Mall and the Capitol reflecting pool across the street from the building. It barely cleared a row of trees and a statue of Gen. Ulysses Grant.

A tourist says the craft landed hard and bounced -- and that an officer was already there with a gun drawn. He says the man was quickly led away by police.