UPDATE: FAA releases statement on gyrocopter landing at Capitol

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The FAA released a statement regarding the landing of a small aircraft on the U.S. Capitol grounds Wednesday.

The statement reads, "The pilot was not in contact with FAA air traffic controllers and the FAA did not authorize him to enter restricted airspace. Airspace security rules that cover the Capitol and the District of Columbia prohibit private aircraft flights without prior coordination and permission."


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Capitol Police converged Wednesday on a small manned aircraft that landed on the west front of the Capitol building in Washington. Police have taken the pilot into custody.

"The U.S. Capitol Police is investigating a gyrocopter with a single occupant that has landed on the grassy area of the West Lawn of t‎he U.S. Capitol," said Capitol Police Lt. Kimberly Schneider in a statement to CNN.

According to White House spokesman Eric Schultz, President Barack Obama has been briefed on the situation.

The wife of Doug Hughes confirmed to CNN that her husband was the pilot of the aircraft. A federal law enforcement officer also confirmed the name to CNN.

Hughes was first identified by the Tampa Bay Times, who had a reporter following him as he planned and executed his protest flight. CNN has also spoken to a friend of Hughes about the pilot's protest flight.

According to a law enforcement source, Hughes flew out of Gettysburg airport where apparently his vehicle and trailer are still located. The Secret Service has sent a team from a local field office to investigate.

Hughes was interviewed by the Secret Service in 2013 after a tip was received that he wanted to land his gyrocopter at the U.S. Capitol or the White House.

At the time, he denied that he owned a gyrocopter or that he had planned to fly one in Washington.

The Tampa Bay Times reported the pilot is a mailman from Florida who planned the flight to protest the Supreme Court decision in Citizens' United case and the influence of outside money in politics. He told the Times that he wanted to deliver mail to lawmakers outlining his complaints.

The paper reported that it called Secret Service and Capitol Hill police before he flew. The reporter who spoke before the flight has been tweeting from Washington as the postal worker landed.

A friend of the pilot who says he's known the man for years tells CNN that "there's nothing on the helicopter that is dangerous" and that the this flight was meant to send a message to Congress about campaign finance reform.

"He has no weapons or anything else," said Michael Shanahan. "I know him personally. He's like a pitbull when he has an idea. He wants to wake up the country."

Shanahan said the pilot called him before he took off.

"He's upset that politicians can be bought and sold at auction, and I agree with him. That's the point he's trying [to make]" Shanahan said. "Happy he made it alive. I want to thank the people who decided not to kill him."

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the area was restricted airspace that Hughes did not get special permission to fly in.

The Capitol building lockdown has lifted and the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms told CNN that everything is under control. The Capitol Police said they had re-opened temporary street closures and resumed normal operations.

At the moment of its landing, however, the Capitol was thrown into chaos.

Outside of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing room, a half-dozen police were running through the hallways, speaking into their radios about a lockdown. In the room waited Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who had stopped by for a photo op and was posing a challenge for officers discussing safe ways to get the prime minister out of the building if necessary.

House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul was on the first floor of the Capitol with aides when the building was briefly locked down, but he hadn't heard about the incident until CNN asked him. He decided to go outside and see the aircraft for himself, and Capitol Police let him through, despite the lockdown.

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