The man who landed a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the Capitol Wednesday afternoon is a 61-year-old mailman from Florida who wanted to deliver letters to all 535 members of Congress.
While Doug Hughes' stunt was a surprise to almost everyone, he actually laid out his plan on his website, thedemocracyclub.org.
"My flight is not a secret. 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," Hughes wrote.
On his website, Hughes said that he is a married man with four children. He has been a mailman near Tampa for 11 years.
Before embarking on his journey to draw attention to campaign finance corruption, Hughes sat down for a confessional-style interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
"No sane person would do what I'm doing," said Hughes in a video posted on the newspaper's website.
Hughes said his mission to fly the gyrocopter in front of the Capitol building was carefully planned so that nobody would get hurt, including him. He loaded the small aircraft onto a trailer last Friday to prepare for the flight. The next day he towed the gyrocopter to an airport, according to the newspaper.
In the video, Hughes said that he would give authorities an hour warning prior to getting to the no-fly zone.
"Terrorists don't announce their flights before they take off. Terrorists don't broadcast their flight path. Terrorists don't invite an escort to go along with them," Hughes told the Times.
Hughes was arrested shortly after landing the aircraft Wednesday afternoon. Charges are pending.
Statement from Jennifer Orsi, managing editor of the Tampa Bay Times:
"Last summer, postal worker Doug Hughes contacted Times reporter Ben Montgomery, who was not previously acquainted with him. He told Montgomery that he was planning an act of civil disobedience to bring attention to campaign finance reform and wanted someone to know his plans and motivations for flying letters to the U.S. Capitol in case something happened during his attempt. By this time, Hughes told us, he had already been interviewed twice by a Secret Service agent.
"Earlier this year, as Hughes continued to work toward his flight, we conducted interviews with him and took photographs and video of his gyrocopter. He told us that part of his plan was to be transparent about his intent – he intended to livestream the flight, intended to go live with a website when he took off explaining who he was and what his intentions were, and that he had an email blast set to go out to lots of media outlets and the authorities alerting them to his plans. In reporting on the story, we saw the business card of the Secret Service agent who Hughes said spoke to him, and confirmed with a co-worker of Hughes that both men were interviewed by the Secret Service at their place of work.
"Hughes told us last week that he planned to go to Washington this week and attempt his flight. We sent Montgomery and photographer James Borchuck to Washington to see if the flight would occur. This morning, they went to the Capitol to see whether Hughes would make his attempt. Shortly after noon today, when we saw Hughes take off via his livestream feed, we posted a story on tampabay.com that Montgomery had written about Hughes and his plan. We also saw Hughes' website go live identifying himself and giving details of his plan. We reported extensively and publicly about our story and the flight on social media including Twitter and Facebook. At about 1 p.m. we called the Capitol Police and Secret Service to ask whether they were aware that a man was flying toward the Capitol in a gyrocopter and ask for comment. We posted their response on our website. At approximately 1:30, Hughes landed."