Douglas Hughes, the 61-year-old former mail carrier who landed a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the US Capitol Building, was sentenced to 120 days in prison, the AP reported today. Hughes, who performed the stunt as a protest of government corruption, was facing a possible nine years in jail for multiple charges, including operating as a pilot without a pilot’s license, violating aircraft registration requirements, and violating national defense airspace.
Hughes had been able to stay out of jail while waiting for his sentence, but was restricted to traveling within the Florida county where he lived and a congressional district where he was considering seeking office. Last year, he announced his plan to run against Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. His campaign website includes quotes from Abraham Lincoln and pictures of actor Jimmy Stewart from the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Hughes took off in his one-man gyrocopter from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on April 15th of last year to protest the role big money plays in politics. Instead his unauthorized flight spurred Congress to hold a hearing on airspace security. Speaking at the hearing, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said Hughes was “lucky to be alive” and “should have been blown out of the air.”