IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Wife of Mailman Who Landed Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn Says Husband Is a 'Patriot'

Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mail carrier from Florida, piloted the small craft through restricted airspace and a no-fly zone Thursday and was arrested.
/ Source: NBC News

The wife of a mailman from Florida, who landed a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of t‎he U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday in an effort to creatively deliver a message about money in politics, said Friday that her husband is a "patriot."

Alena Hughes said after she got word that her husband, Doug, 61, made it all the way through restricted airspace and a no-fly zone and landed his contraption on the lawn of the Capitol, she struggled to explain the stunt to their 11-year-old daughter. She said she told the child that her father "loves his country."

"I think he's patriot and I’m proud of him," Hughes told NBC affiliate WFLA.

Hughes' United States Postal Service-branded gyrocopter was carrying 535 letters to Washington, D.C. — one for each member of Congress — about campaign finance reform and getting money out of government.

Hughes had talked about the stunt for months on a website and tipped off The Tampa Bay Times of the Tax Day plan in advance. But Hughes' wife said she wasn't informed of the plot, and was "shocked" when she found out what her husband had done.

Hughes was promptly arrested after landing and charged Thursday with operating an unregistered aircraft and violating restricted airspace, which could land him in prison for four years. He was released on bond and placed on home detention but can't fly or step foot in Washington, D.C., except for court related matters, according to federal authorities.

Alena Hughes said Friday that the last few days have been "stressful" as she tries to keep friends and family updated over social media. "For wife, it’s not good," she said.

Hughes said her husband had his own lawyer in Washington, but she's hired an attorney, Paul Carr, in Ruskin, Florida, to represent her. Carr said he might end up representing Doug Hughes.

"Tell me what restrictions mailmen have to deliver mail," Carr said Friday. "He has a right to deliver mail," Carr added. "In fact, it's his obligation."


— Elisha Fieldstadt