Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government United States Politics

Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C. 271

mpicpp writes The Florida mail carrier accused of landing a gyrocopter outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was charged in federal court Thursday and has been barred from returning to the District of Columbia or flying any aircraft, officials said. Douglas Hughes, 61, was charged with violating aircraft registration requirements, a felony, and violating national defense airspace, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for the felony and one year in prison for the airspace violation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson also barred Hughes from the District of Columbia, except for court appearances, and said he must stay away from the Capitol, White House and nearby areas while he is there. He will also have to hand over his passport.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 17, 2015 @03:28PM (#49496285)

    Lockin up the postman to save the mothafuckin day Nyah!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Speaking of the characteristics of America...

      Last week I was at an airport in Europe. I was thinking about how Americans were cautioned because certain criminals (and of course "terrorists") might target them. But this part of Europe had a demographic make-up similar to the USA - mostly white folk, plus a good percentage of people of African descent and a few Asians.

      I was thinking, how would they know who is American? Then a plane was boarding. I saw this family, six people in total. The parents and al

      • You do really being obese (BMI 25-30) is the range to target for longest lifespan right? So those people who were "morbidly obese" just overshot the desired target range. Not until BMI gets to 35 does risk factors even become again like *normal* weight person

        so bottom line is, it's good to be an american lard-ass, at least with BMI under 35

        http://www.everydayhealth.com/... [everydayhealth.com]

      • Speaking of the characteristics of America...

        Last week I was at an airport in Europe. I was thinking about how Americans were cautioned because certain criminals (and of course "terrorists") might target them. But this part of Europe had a demographic make-up similar to the USA - mostly white folk, plus a good percentage of people of African descent and a few Asians.

        I was thinking, how would they know who is American? Then a plane was boarding. I saw this family, six people in total. The parents and all four children (some were as young as 5 or 6) were really morbidly obese. Then I understood how criminals might target Americans. Strange how the news didn't mention this.

        Also, it's too bad telling the honest truth so often offends somebody, but they'll get over it. If you are the parent of a five year old, that five year old becomes morbidly obese, and there is no thyroid problem or other solid medical reason for that, you deserve to be tried and convicted of child abuse/child neglect. Destroy your own health all you like, as you are an adult and can make that choice just like you can choose to smoke, but to destroy your child's health from the start like that is just evil.

        The other way they could target Americans is the RFID tags in the passports. I heard theres a plot to plant bombs which will only go off if enough US passports are nearby... Better keep a safe distance from other Americans, eh

  • Is banishment legal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slinches ( 1540051 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @03:33PM (#49496325)

    Can you really ban someone from a federal district? What about a state?

    • Federal judges can do whatever they want. There are no limits to the kinds of orders they can issue, unless overturned by a higher court which this won't be.

      • He could appeal to the Supreme.....oooooohhhhhhhh....

      • Federal judges can do whatever they want. There are no limits to the kinds of orders they can issue, unless overturned by a higher court which this won't be.

        Judges can't do whatever they want. We have this thing called law.
        FUCK

        • Federal judges can do whatever they want. There are no limits to the kinds of orders they can issue, unless overturned by a higher court which this won't be.

          Judges can't do whatever they want. We have this thing called law.
          FUCK

          Since when did Americans allow the law to stand in the way of justice?
          FUCK

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, the constitution does say any American citizen has free travel between areas within the US. So if I was this guy, I'd sue the federal court. Fun fact, because it's a federal issue, he's constitutionally promised a jury of at least 6 people if the suit is for more than $20. At that point, it really doesn't matter what the federal judge says, it's the jury. And since the US is a country of "letter of the law", the federal government is going to have a hell of a time defending this action when the co

      • Federal judges can do whatever they want. There are no limits to the kinds of orders they can issue, unless overturned by a higher court which this won't be.

        Kind of like ASBOs in the UK?

        "Cannot wear baggy pants in public places between the hours of 6pm and 6am"

    • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @03:41PM (#49496419) Journal

      It's not a "ban" per say, it's a condition of his release pending trial. No different than the Judge telling you that you can't leave your house except for work, must submit to drug testing, or the myriad other requirements that are imposed on people who don't get pre-trial confinement. The alternative to accepting the conditions of release is to go to jail and sit there for a few months while the wheels of justice grind forward.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's "per se", mr smartypants.

      • The alternative to accepting the conditions of release is to go to jail and sit there for a few months while the wheels of justice grind forward.

        Yes, because the "right" to a speedy trial is a load of dingo's kidneys, just like all other "human rights" in this country.

        • by murdocj ( 543661 )

          as opposed to ... North Korea? Russia? China? African / Middle Eastern nations? France, where wearing the head scarf is a crime? Germany? Just where is this beacon of human rights if not the USA?

    • by Nukenbar ( 215420 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @03:41PM (#49496421)

      Not as a final sentence, but you can ban people from a number of things as a condition of bail.

    • Judges have the power to send people to jail, which is essentially banning a person from everywhere except a tiny cell. So being banned from a single city like in this case doesn't look that bad in comparison.
    • by HighOrbit ( 631451 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @03:51PM (#49496527)
      Are you jesting? A judge can ban you from everyplace excepting a 5x8 concrete pad enclosed with iron bars (commonly referred to as a "cell").

      In reallity, the Gov't rarely punishes non-violent acts of civil disobediance/protest with anything more than a fine and time served while awaiting trial (days to a few months). For history, look at all the anti-nuke demonstrators who regularly chain themselves to the fences at air force bases. The key here is non-violance. As long as nobody got hurt and there wasn't any real possibility of anybody getting hurt, they will give the guy a small to moderate fine.

      If he is not close to retirement, he might get fired from the postal service.
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @03:57PM (#49496579)

      The judges in my county ban people from entering the county a lot. It's one of their favorite things to do. Basically it keeps us from having to keep them up in jail. They get probation and a "get the hell out and stay out" order. If they come back they stuff them in jail to do their sentence. Works like a charm, they move on up the road and become someone else problem.

      • by PuckSR ( 1073464 )

        His question was about banning from a federal district.
        Barring someone from Washington DC for life might be seen as a violation of his 1st Amendment.

    • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @05:40PM (#49497309)
      This effectively bans him from petitioning the federal government (in person). Would the judge have inserted this order as a poison pill to force an appellate court to do something? It's awfully weird.
  • This sounds like the kind of reaction our glorious overlords were having to people landing on the Capitol lawn on September 10th, 2001.

    A little miffed, patronizing, an official "We have our eye on you", but not guns drawn, no disappearances into Cuban prison camps, no insane over-reactions.

    • I'll just leave this here... http://www.cleveland.com/darcy... [cleveland.com]
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @03:36PM (#49496355)
    While it may be true that this guy was "literally flying under the radar", that phrase gives a very misleading impression: the impression that he was trying to sneak up on them.

    Quite the contrary. He sent them a message a full hour in advance, saying that they should expect him.

    So while it might have been "literally" under the radar, it wasn't figuratively under the radar. The White House knew he was coming and expected him. That being the case, they don't get to say they were surprised by his arrival, or imply that he was any kind of serious threat. If they were surprised at all, it was nobody's fault but their own.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jklovanc ( 1603149 )

      or imply that he was any kind of serious threat.

      Think of the following scenario;
      1. Inform flight control that you will be delivering letter by gyrocopter to the Capitol Lawn.
      2. Load explosives in the mail bag.
      3. Fly to the Capitol Lawn.
      4. Crash into the Capitol Building and explode instead.
      How can you trust that the stated intentions are the actual intentions? How many time are such statements hoaxes?

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        Then why didn't they shoot his ass out of the sky? A 12 Gauge pump shotgun would have sufficed.

        • Would you want to be the one who shot down n unarmed mailman? HAd he deviated at all from his plan he probably would have been.

        • by Gryle ( 933382 )
          I've seen you post this comment 3 times. I'm going to extend you the courtesy of assuming you're not a troll.

          Let's assume the FBI knew this guy was intending to fly a gryocopter into no-fly space. Let's further assume based on reading this guy's emails,or tapping this guy's phone, or rummaging through his trash, or his refrigerator, or installing secret spy devices in his underpants to measure his potential for Communist sympathies, that they decided he's a legitimate protestor and not a home-grown terror
    • Quite the contrary. He sent them a message a full hour in advance, saying that they should expect him.

      And who was "them" that he sent the message to? "info@barackobama.com". If you didn't know, and didn't bother to look up, that domain is used by "Organizing for Action", a "grassroots" "community organizing" group. It has "barackobama" in the name, so the President must be involved, right? He got the message the postman delivered, right?

      According to the FAQ [barackobama.com] in their website asking about the group's connection to Barack Obama:

      The President's legacy as a grassroots organizer helped inspire a movement of mil

    • He sent them a message a full hour in advance, saying that they should expect him.

      Wasn't the warning left on a voice mail? Was the secret service agent even in the office during that hour?

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @03:46PM (#49496469) Journal

    It was abundantly clear that this guy did this act as a political protest and informed people in the press a YEAR in advance that this was his plan. Secret service officials were informed about it and determined the guy wasn't a psycho or had a criminal background or anything else alarming, so they basically ignored it as a non-concern. Then, days before he did it, he let people know he was about to do it, too!

    If you wanted to give him a slap on the wrist... say, a fine for violating the rules on airspace? Sure, I think he even fully expected as much. Perhaps confiscate his gyro-copter too. Whatever.... But banning him from setting foot in the District of Columbia and talking about YEARS of prison time? That's outrageous.

    Just last week I read about a psycho woman in Oregon who bashed a guy's skull in with an aluminum baseball bat on their first date, when he went out there to finally visit her in person after a 2 year long online relationship. They only gave her a sentence of a few MONTHS in jail for the incident, despite her planning the whole thing and getting another woman to assist her with it - AND saying she got the idea from something she read or saw that said it only takes 7 pounds of pressure to snap someone's neck. Which person are you more concerned will do people physical harm in the future??

    • by Idou ( 572394 )
      You act as though he is being punished for violating the rules on airspace. Clearly he is being punished for raising too much awareness about finance reform. The powers that be want to make an example of him before this gets too out of hand. . .
    • Whatever.... But banning him from setting foot in the District of Columbia and talking about YEARS of prison time? That's outrageous.

      He is only banned until the trial is concluded and the years of prison time are the maximums for the charges. The maximums are not always imposed. He could also get off with probation and no jail time. Perhaps you should wait for the sentence before commenting on jail time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shakrai ( 717556 )

      But banning him from setting foot in the District of Columbia and talking about YEARS of prison time?

      The banishment is part of his conditions of release and will expire whenever the criminal case is concluded. Nothing to see there. As far as "YEARS," well, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines don't have a specific section for this offense, so it falls under the other felony offenses section [ussc.gov], which says that 18 U.S. Code 3553 [cornell.edu] is controlling.

      Assuming he has no criminal record, my educated guess would be he stands a decent chance of doing no time. If he gets a prison sentence it will be 366 days, which is S

    • by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @06:15PM (#49497497)

      Powerful people don't like to be made to look like fools. That's this man's real crime. He made the Secret Service and the Air Force look like a bunch of clowns who can't defend the capital's airspace, even with whatever post-9/11 security enhancements they've made, even from a slow-flying (Maybe homebuilt? Most autogyros are.) aircraft, and even after Hughes publicly announced his intentions to do so.

      What *should* happen is a house-cleaning in the Secret Service and Air Force for being so incompetent as to allow this to happen; a slap on the wrist for Hughes for the actual offense, and then a commendation for demonstrating that the emperor was wearing no clothes that day. Unfortunately though, in this matter and more, as a nation we seem to have forgotten (or chosen to ignore) the tenet of: "don't shoot the messenger".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FrozenFrog ( 539212 )

      Just last week I read about a psycho woman in Oregon who bashed a guy's skull in with an aluminum baseball bat on their first date, when he went out there to finally visit her in person after a 2 year long online relationship. They only gave her a sentence of a few MONTHS in jail for the incident, despite her planning the whole thing and getting another woman to assist her with it - AND saying she got the idea from something she read or saw that said it only takes 7 pounds of pressure to snap someone's neck. Which person are you more concerned will do people physical harm in the future??

      If you're going to cite something like this, you really should provide a link to back up your claims.

      http://www.statesmanjournal.co... [statesmanjournal.com]

      She didn't "bash his skull in", she hit him and fractured his skull and caused two lacerations. He was treated and released released from hospital. No mention of a sentence of "a few months" in that article, or any other I could find. The woman in question is being held on $100,000 bail, and appears for an arraignment on April 20.

  • I Love This Guy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 17, 2015 @04:01PM (#49496623)

    Crazy but well-intended American nuttiness at its finest. I wanna give him a Freedom medal. He had an honest populist message, he didn't set out to hurt anybody, he DIDN'T ACTUALLY hurt anybody (including himself), did it in a wacky, even laughable goof-ball way using his own ingenuity, and most important, told lots of people what he was going to do before he did it (and nobody stopped him).

    He gave us all a laugh, and at the same time harmlessly informed us that Washington's airspace is completely vulnerable to low-flying cruise missiles. Your welcome!

    I know shit has gotten so hot over the years. They used to set themselves on fire to get a message across. Now they blow themselves up to take other people with them, or blow people up after running away (looking at YOU, Boston Bomber). But whereas the Soviets were the bad guys for shooting people for looking funny at the Kremlin, the U.S. used to be the place you could take LSD on the White House lawn and get nothing more than a night in jail (all he needs is a good haircut).

    I never want to live in a USA where wacky shit like this Postman ain't funny anymore. We're supposed to know the difference between a good-hearted eccentric and the truly malicious. Give him a dirty look and a "don't do that again" thing. And maybe actually do something about campaign finance reform.

  • This guy flew his aircraft into the DC ADIZ.

    http://www.aerolegalservices.c... [aerolegalservices.com]

    He did not land on national property or attempt to deliver mail, but other than heinous
    things, it's pretty much the same.

    He was given a 30 day suspension of pilot privileges.

    E

    • I don't believe you actually need a pilot's license to fly anything characterized as an "ultralight" aircraft, as these tape-and-balsawood gyrocopters appear to be. Doesn't mean the FAA can't fine your ass, of course, when you do dumb crap like flying a possibly deadly set of large rotors right past crowds of tourists at low altitudes in an urban area like DC.
  • by dtjohnson ( 102237 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @04:44PM (#49496979)
    Watching the video of this guy flying in to land shows what a cool machine the gyrocopter is...simple, cheap, easy to fly, and with a small take-off and landing footprint. Am I the only one who wants one of these now? Did the media ever identify what make and model of gyrocopter he owned? I want to get a kit and start building.
  • by bferrell ( 253291 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @04:57PM (#49497049) Homepage Journal

    Unregistered Aircraft... Felony

    Violate National Defense Airspace... Misdemeanor?!

    WTF?!

  • The felony wasn't. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @04:58PM (#49497057)

    The felony wasn't.

    It's my understanding that the gyrocopter in question was actually under the 250 pound limit that would require FAA registration.

    This would mean the felony charge is bogus.

    Can anyone confirm the vehicle total unladen weight?

  • Capitol Hill is no place for fellons.

  • Banned from DC? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @06:08PM (#49497455) Journal

    What if he wants to contact his representative or Senator? What if he wants to petition his government for redress of grievances?

  • by Tool Man ( 9826 ) on Friday April 17, 2015 @11:45PM (#49498675)

    He is a flight risk.

The reward for working hard is more hard work.

Working...