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Rep. Chaffetz: Gyrocopter Pilot Is 'Lucky to Be Alive,' Should Have Been 'Blown Out of the Air

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Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, speaks with reporters following a Capitol Hill briefing on security at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Wednesday, April 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Florida postal carrier steered his small gyrocopter through protected Washington airspace for 30 miles to the U.S. Capitol, tracked by the nation's top security agencies, which feared harming others if they tried to shoot him down, senior lawmakers said Wednesday.

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, speaks with reporters following a Capitol Hill briefing on security at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Wednesday, April 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Doug Hughes, 61, is "lucky to be alive" and "should have been blown out of the air," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight committee, told reporters just days after the incident that exposed a gap in the government's efforts to ensure the security of the White House, Capitol and other critical buildings in Washington.

Senior officials from the Secret Service and Capitol Police briefed top House members behind closed doors.

Chaffetz said security tracked Hughes as he flew from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to the lawn of the U.S. Capitol last week. He said a decision was made not to shoot Hughes down. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said there was concern about injuring others if an attempt was made to shoot down Hughes.

Lawmakers raised alarms about security after Hughes' stunt, aimed at drawing attention to the need for campaign finance reform.

Hughes was charged with two federal crimes, violating restricted airspace and operating an unregistered aircraft. The crimes carry penalties of up to four years in prison and fines.

Hughes' next court appearance is May 8.

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