Florida resident Doug Hughes caused an uproar in Washington when he piloted a small aircraft into restricted airspace to land on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. And just over 24 hours later, Hughes appeared in court and was charged with two offenses: knowingly operating an unregistered aircraft and violating national defense airspace.
- Who is gyrocopter pilot Doug Hughes?
- Gyrocopter pilot's plan to breach Capitol airspace was no secret
The first count -- a felony charge -- is punishable by up to three years in prison, and violating defense airspace could mean up to one year in prison.
The Justice Department was not opposed to his release but requested GPS monitoring, weekly check-ins with a monitor in Tampa, and stay-away orders from places in the District of Columbia. He is also banned from operating any flying vehicle.
The Ruskin postal worker flew his gyrocopter to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, landing on the west front lawn of the Capitol building. Capitol police immediately apprehended him when they arrived on the scene, and the Capitol Police bomb squad investigated the vehicle and cleared it.
The Capitol police force is leading the investigation into the incident, with federal agencies assisting.
Hughes drove his contraption from Florida to the Gettysburg area, about two hours from Washington, the Tampa Bay Times reported. According to Hughes' personal website, the "freedom flight" was an attempt to promote campaign finance reform. His vehicle carried five hundred thirty-five letters, addressing each member of Congress about transparency in campaign donations.
Various members of Congress have weighed in on the gyrocopter incident, and many expressed concern at the breach of security.
"Frankly, the individual is fortunate that this stunt did not cost him his life," Committee on House Administration Chair Candice Miller, R-Michigan, and ranking member Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said in a joint statement. "Bottom line, this small aircraft should have never been able to access protected airspace and land on the U.S. Capitol Grounds - and this cannot happen again."
The Ruskin resident told the Tampa Bay Times last year of his plans, shortly after Secret Service agents questioned him about his flight. In a documentary feature in the Times, Hughes denied any involvement in a terrorism plot.
"Terrorists don't announce their flights before they take off. Terrorists don't broadcast their flight path," Hughes said. "No sane person would do what I'm doing."
CBS News' Paula Reid contributed to this report.