The Florida mailman who landed a gyrocopter on the U.S Capitol grounds and put Congress lockdown on Wednesday, appeared Thursday wearing his USPS jacket at federal court. He was charged with two federal crimes and let out on bail.
The charges against Douglas Mark Hughes, 61, include violating registration requirements involving aircraft, a felony that could carry up to three years in prison and also violation of national defense airspace, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. Both charges also carry potential financial penalties.
A condition of his release was that he be monitored via GPS, but Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson ordered that he will be placed on home detention in Tampa.
When Hughes comes to D.C. for court appearances, he won’t be allowed to visit the capitol and he is not to fly any aircraft of any kind at all, the judge reiterated.
Hughes asked at court how he would be able to work if he is confined to his house, but it was not immediately clear if there was a resolution to his question.
Before the stunt, Hughes said flying into the restricted airspace was a protest of campaign finance laws. Hughes, a postal worker, was arrested and taken into custody Wednesday on Capitol grounds after landing the small, lightweight device on the West Lawn. Hughes, who announced his plan on his website, said he had no intention of hurting anyone and nothing dangerous was found in the aircraft.
Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said Thursday he’s investigating the incident and is requesting more information from federal officials.
“I am deeply concerned that someone has the ability to fly for over an hour through the most restricted airspace in our country, past the White House, and land on the lawn of the Capitol,” Johnson said in a statement.
This isn’t the first low flying aircraft to cause security concerns for government buildings. Earlier this year, a drone crashed on the White House grounds. The Secret Service determined that event was an accident — the government employee who was flying that drone recreationally, was not charged.
Last month, the Secret Service began testing drones over parts of Washington looking for possible ways to stop potentially dangerous drones, including knocking them out of the sky.
CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.