WASHINGTON, June 23 (UPI) -- Douglas Hughes, the postal worker who famously landed his homemade gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol back April, rejected a plea deal that involved years of prison time at a court hearing on Monday.
Speaking to reporters outside the E. Barrett Prettyman court in Washington, Hughes said that his case will likely go to trial now.
"No jail time is justified in an act that was only intended to bring the attention of the media and voters to the corruption of our federal government," Hughes said, adding that "there are people in Congress who made it perfectly clear that, had they been at the trigger, I would have been shot down for my flight."
In May, Hughes was indicted of six charges and faces up to nine and a half years in prison for flying the gyrocopter in what he claims was "an act of pure civil disobedience."
Although the airspace around the Capitol is highly restricted and any aircraft that crosses it risks getting shot down, Hughes argues that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not legislated the piloting or registration of aircraft lighter than 254 pounds, leaving the community of ultralight aircraft pilots to draw up their own rules. Violators are typically hit with fines as high as a $1,000, said Hughes, but not criminal prosecution.
Hughes believes that since no individuals or property were damaged, the prosecutor has laid charges on him for the spectacular nature of the feat.
"Nobody was hurt. There was no property damage," Hughes said. "The problem is that it was spectacular, okay? And the prosecutor has laid charges on me for that reason."
Hughes additionally admitted he is expecting to be fired by the U.S. Postal Service. Although USPS criticized Hughes' stunt, no news of his dismissal has been issued.
Furthermore, he added that his stunt was in the vain of 1960s style civil protests and that it furthered his cause of campaign finance reform by five years.
Currently, Hughes' mobility around his home of Hillsborough County, Fla., is limited, having been given permission by the U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to take his daughter to high school in neighboring Manatee County and to visit his son in Orlando. Hughes is also barred from flying any aircraft or being in the vicinity of the Capitol and White House.
His hearing will take place July 22.