Tags: gyrocopter | pilot | denied | collide | delta

Gyrocopter Pilot Who Flew to Capitol Says No Close Call With Delta Flight

Image: Gyrocopter Pilot Who Flew to Capitol Says No Close Call With Delta Flight
Capitol Hill police officers and other officials lift a gyrocopter that landed on the US Capitol South Lawn, on to a trailer, April 15, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 07 Mar 2016 08:48 AM

The gyrocopter pilot from Florida who landed outside the U.S. Capitol in April has denied prosecutors' allegations that he nearly collided with a Delta flight taking off from Reagan National Airport.

"At NO time, was I a threat to commercial traffic," Douglas Hughes wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Saturday. 

"The 'story' that I almost collided with a passenger jet is a fabrication," he continued, saying "the prosecution is either intentionally deceptive or grossly negligent in their presentation of the evidence."

Hughes said he was aware of where commercial air traffic operated and said, "I didn't go there."

On Friday, prosecutors said in a court filing that Hughes came within 1,400 yards of Delta Flight 1639, and that federal aviation rules require at least 3,000 yards of separation.

"If the gyrocopter had drifted slightly west, or the airline had taken a slightly more easterly path, a collision could have occurred," prosecutors said, adding that such an event would have been "catastrophic."

Mark Goldstone, an attorney for Hughes, said Saturday that the defense team is looking into the prosecution's claim.

"It seems suspicious that on the eve of sentencing, all of a sudden his flight was about to blow up a commercial airliner," he commented.

Hughes spent one night in jail after his flight, which he said he took to draw attention to the political issue of campaign finance reform. He subsequently spend five weeks in home confinement, and now has travel restrictions.

"Mr. Hughes needed to utilize a dramatic method in bringing attention to the problem because the traditional means of contacting Congress are ineffective and the amount of influence that sixty-two year old mailmen have in the current political arena is insignificant," Hughes’ defense attorneys wrote, according to The Washington Post.

He pleaded guilty in November to the felony of operating a gyrocopter without a license. The charge carries up to three years in prison, but part of Hughes' plea deal limits the maximum to 10 months.

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The gyrocopter pilot from Florida who landed outside the U.S. Capitol in April has denied prosecutors' allegations that he nearly collided with a Delta flight taking off from Reagan National Airport.
gyrocopter, pilot, denied, collide, delta
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2016-48-07
Monday, 07 Mar 2016 08:48 AM
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