The U.S. Secret Service performed a search of Gettysburg Regional Airport as part of its investigation into a Florida postal worker who flew a gyrocopter onto the U.S. Capitol lawn. Agents have seized a trailer presumably owned by Doug Hughes, after they released him Wednesday afternoon, the Hanover Sun reported Thursday.
Hughes took responsibility for the incident and confessed to flying the aircraft through the restricted airspace around the National Mall. He had reportedly flown to Washington from the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
He said he was trying to deliver letters to all 535 members of Congress in an effort to draw attention to campaign corruption, in a mission he called “sort of a mix of P.T. Barnum and Paul Revere,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. He had discussed his plans with the newspaper earlier, revealing that he had meticulously plotted his flight path.
Secret Service agents began investigating the airport on Wednesday afternoon. Hughes had earlier written on his website that he had informed authorities of his plans and that he did not mean any harm.
"As I have informed the authorities, I have no violent inclinations or intent," Hughes wrote on thedemocracyclub.org. "An ultralight aircraft poses no major physical threat. It may present a political threat to graft. I hope so. There's no need to worry - I'm just delivering the mail."
An anonymous Senate aide told the Hanover Sun that Capitol Police were aware of his intentions, and that Hughes had been previously interviewed by Secret Service agents.
House Homeland Security Panel Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said Hughes had landed the aircraft on his own, but authorities were prepared to shoot it out of the sky had it reached too close to the Capitol. “Had it gotten any closer to the speaker's balcony they have long guns to take it down, but it didn't. It landed right in front," he reportedly said.