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Protestor lands small helicopter on US Capitol lawn

Technically Incorrect: A man allegedly unhappy with government corruption decides the best way to express his displeasure is to land a foreign aircraft on the West Lawn.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.



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There he goes. Associated Press/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

No one likes government corruption. Except, perhaps, for corrupt members of government.

For the rest of the populace, we grin and bear it -- often because we suspect it, but we have no proof.

A Florida man allegedly thought he'd try another idea. On Wednesday, 61-year-old Doug Hughes made a successful landing on the West Lawn in a gyrocopter. The suggestion is that he was protesting government corruption. Some might wonder whether he was exposing government security.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Hughes is a mailman in Ruskin, Fla. His friend, Mike Shanahan (not the former Redskins coach), told the Times that he had warned the Secret Service of Hughes' plan to make a citizen's landing and deliver a letter. The paper had a reporter, Ben Montgomery, actually follow Hughes' historic flight. (ABC News interview with him below)

Hughes has a Web site called The Democracy Club. (Subhead: "Because 'We The People' Own Congress.) There, he expounded on his intentions. They were principally to "present the solution(s) to institutional graft."

This seems like a noble and helpful aim. However, flying a gyrocopter onto government property flies in the face of certain laws, which caused Hughes to be arrested on landing. He might have considered that this would happen, as his site shows that this so-called Freedom Flight was planned some two years ago.

The Tampa Bay Times published the full text of his letter, in which he calls for a constitutional amendment and legislation.

He declares his support for campaign finance reform, describing it as "the cornerstone of building an honest Congress." He calls for "erecting a wall of separation between our elected officials and big money." This is quite similar to sentiments expressed only yesterday by newly-admitted presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

My first instincts suggest that there might not be vast support for such things among, oh, any allegedly corrupt members of Congress. Still, Hughes's letter speaks from the heart.

The choice of gyrocopter is interesting. A quick Internet search shows that they can retail for as little as $13,000. Hughes reportedly thinks of his as a flying bicycle. CNN reports that he flew it out of Gettysburg airport in Pennsylvania and did not have permission to fly in restricted airspace. It also said the Secret Service had interviewed him in 2013 as to his intentions.

But how did this flying bicycle manage, with apparent ease, to fly straight to where it did? I have contacted the US Capitol Police to ask these pertinent questions and will update, should I hear.


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