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Officials plan to destroy Ruskin mailman Doug Hughes' gyrocopter

Flanked by his wife, Alena, left, and daughter Kathy, right, gyrocopter pilot Doug Hughes reports to FDC Miami on June 14 to serve four months for landing on the U.S. Capitol lawn. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Published Oct. 24, 2016

WASHINGTON — Authorities plan to destroy a helicopter-like aircraft that made headlines when its owner flew it on to the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in 2015 as a political protest.

A U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman says the destruction of the craft will likely occur within weeks.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Doug Hughes gets 4 months in prison for Capitol gyrocopter protest

The craft's former owner, Florida resident Douglas Hughes, pleaded guilty to operating a gyrocopter without a license for his April 15, 2015, flight in the bare-bones aircraft to the Capitol's West Lawn.

Hughes agreed to forfeit the aircraft as part of a plea deal and was sentenced to four months in prison. He finished his sentence earlier this month according to the Bureau of Prisons' website.

Cars, boats, planes and other property like jewelry and artwork that are forfeited to the government as part of a court case can be sold. But Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said in an e-mail Monday that the gyrocopter's "sale would not be appropriate considering its role in his irresponsible and unlawful act last year."

In flying from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to the U.S. Capitol, Hughes violated airspace restrictions around the nation's capital — some of the most restricted airspace in the nation. Hughes said his stunt was a way to call attention to the influence of big money in politics and protest government corruption.

A mailman at the time of his flight, he was carrying a letter for each member of Congress. He had a Postal Service logo on the tail of his aircraft.

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