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Fla. Mailman Who Flew Gyrocopter Onto Capitol Lawn Appears In Court

Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET

The Florida mailman who landed a gyrocopter on the lawn of the Capitol last month appeared in court today and pleaded not guilty to all six charges against him.

Douglas Mark Hughes was charged Wednesday and faces up to 9 1/2 years in prison.

NPR's Peter Overby reported on the charges against Hughes:

"[F]ederal law treats violation of national defense airspace as a misdemeanor. The grand jury charged him three times, for flying through three zones. There's a fourth misdemeanor as well — operating a vehicle falsely labeled as [a] postal carrier.' The two felony charges are flying without an airman's certification and flying an aircraft not registered with the Federal Aviation Administration."

Hughes, 61, was arrested after his April 15 flight from Gettysburg, Pa., to Washington. He was subsequently released and placed under house arrest in Ruskin, Fla., and barred from returning to Washington, except for court appearances and meetings with his attorney. At today's court hearing, Magistrate Judge Alan Kay kept these and other restrictions against Hughes in place, but lifted one that required him to be under home detention. Hughes can now travel within his home county, Hillsborough County, Fla.

As we previously reported, Hughes said he wanted to deliver letters to members of Congress highlighting the need for campaign-finance reform. He reiterated those comments in an interview with NPR's Overby. Here's what he said:

"The reason I did it, although I brought 535 letters to Congress, the reason was to get a message to the American people — not that there's a problem with Congress but that there are solutions to the problem. Ninety-one percent of Americans know that Congress isn't working for them."

He is next due in court May 27.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.