As FAA Investigates, Most Laugh Off Gyrocopter Stunt

Florida mailman lands on Capitol lawn.

With his harebrained landing of a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn to hand deliver hundreds of protest letters to Congress, mailman Doug Hughes has put a new twist on the expression “going postal.”

The FAA says it’s launching a full-scale investigation of the unauthorized flight. AOPA quickly labeled the stunt “unacceptable.” Most everybody else, meanwhile, seems to be laughing off Hughes’ impromptu arrival on the Washington, D.C. Mall in his self-described “flying bicycle.”

The 61-year-old postal worker from the Tampa, Florida, area gave plenty of advanced warning of his protest flight, which he’s been planning for over two years. With the landing, he says he is merely trying to turn America’s attention toward campaign finance reform.

Pundits on TV have been wringing their hands over how Hughes was able to penetrate Washington’s protected airspace undetected. The incident recalls past security breaches such as a German teenager’s landing of a Cessna Skyhawk in Moscow’s Red Square in 1987 and the intentional crashing of a Cessna 150 onto the south lawn of the White House in 1994.

This episode was different, however. While those previous headline-grabbing flights focused negative attention on general aviation, in this case the public doesn’t seem to know or really care what a gyrocopter is.

“It looked like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” one bemused spectator said of the stunt.

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