EXCLUSIVE: Ruskin gyrocopter pilot who served prison time says he’d do it again

Douglas Hughes
Douglas Hughes

RUSKIN, Fla. (WFLA) – The Ruskin man who landed his gyrocopter on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol and the served time in federal prison talked elusively with News Channel 8 Wednesday.

Douglas Hughes talked about why he did it – and what’s next.

In April 2015 Hughes piloted his gyrocopter through restricted airspace and then through a no-fly zone. It was his way of protesting the country’s campaign finance system.

Hughes believes politicians like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t have to take money from big business and special interest groups.

“I want to bring attention to the solutions of the problem of corruption in this country,” Hughes told News Channel 8 Wednesday.

He said the attention he gained the day of his flight, April 15, 2015, brought his ideas to the public forefront. “The objective of my flight was to make a statement that resistance is not futile,” Hughes said. “They are invincible. One little guy can go up against the power of the federal government and make a dent. I’m not trying to advance a particular left or right agenda. I’m trying to restore democracy.”

Hughes believes restoring democracy means utilizing publicly funded campaigns. “But as things stand right now, the Republicans and Democrats are representing the people with money,” he said.

“It doesn’t have to continue (to be like that),” Hughes said. “The idea that corporations are investing money in elections for the good of society is a pipe dream.”

Hughes said the election won’t change anything. “It’s not going to change anything because we haven’t done anything yet to address money and politics,” he said.  “Clinton stands too close to the money. Trump is the money.”

Hughes didn’t waiver when asked if he’d do it all over again. “I don’t have any doubts that it was the right thing to do,” he said.

Hughes spent four months behind bars. He’s now on probation and, interestingly enough, can’t vote for the next five years.

The judge in Hughes’ case never made any restriction on Hughes’ activity when it comes to aircraft. He told News Channel 8 he plans on getting his pilot’s license. He also wants to get another gyrocopter.

He’ll continue to spread his message – but in a legal way, he said.

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