Copter Freaks Out Capitol Hill
… and for good reason: most of DC is supposed to be protected air space.
A small gyrocopter reportedly piloted by a Florida postal worker landed on the West Lawn of the Capitol on Wednesday, triggering a brief lockdown and raising questions about security on Capitol Hill.
The gyrocopter set down on lawn shortly after 1 p.m. It appeared to be adorned with the logo of the United States Postal Service.
Reporters and security personnel flocked to the scene, and police later said the pilot of the aircraft had been arrested. Charges were not immediately released.
“The U.S. Capitol Police is investigating a gyrocopter with a single occupant that has landed on the grassy area of the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol,” a Capitol Police spokeswoman said. “The U.S. Capitol Police continues to investigate with one person detained and temporary street closures in the immediate area.”
The pilot was reportedly delivering 535 letters to the members of Congress protesting rampant bribery… er, campaign contributions:
About a year ago, [Mike] Shanahan said, [his pal Doug] Hughes told him of the idea to deliver letters to legislators by gyrocopter. Not long after, they were both questioned by a Secret Service official in Florida, he said. Wednesday morning, Shanahan said, Hughes called his friend and said he was in Washington, ready to take off.
He passed along the website on which he would livestream his flight, but Shanahan, not adept with computers, could not find it.
And, would’ntchaknowit, at least one agency was tipped off about the scheme:
So, [Shanahan] said, he pulled out the phone number he had saved from the Secret Service agent he spoke to months ago. He dialed. No answer, but he said he left a message. No call back. He still was not certain if the protest was actually going to happen.
“I didn’t want to get all of D.C. in an uproar and it turn out he was just practicing or something or he was just pulling my leg,” Shanahan said.
Though Hughes was arrested, Shanahan said he was relieved his friend was alive.