Perhaps nobody was more surprised by Doug Hughes’ gyrocopter stunt at the Capitol on Wednesday than his neighbors in Ruskin, Florida.
“It’s weird thinking somebody like that, you know, two doors down,” the U.S. mailman’s neighbor Ian Hopkins said.
“We were so surprised about it because you know he’s a good man… he’s a good neighbor,” another person said.
Hughes is a married father of four who’s been flying gyrocopters for more than a year. According to his website, the 61-year-old grew up in California, served in the Navy and became a mailman more than a decade ago. But Wednesday, he chose to veer off his regular route to draw attention to campaign finance reform…
Hughes’ so-called “freedom flight” had been in the works for some time…In fact, Hughes alerted the Tampa Bay Times last year — after the Secret Service interviewed him about his plans.
“Terrorists don’t announce their flights before they take off. Terrorists don’t broadcast their flight path,” Hughes told the Times…
According to the Times, Hughes’ act of civil disobedience began taking shape more than two years ago after his son committed suicide…His grief prompted him to take a bigger stand on political issues he felt were important.
“We were trying to think of ways to get attention, and it looks like he did that,” Hughes’ co-worker Michael Shanahan said…
Still, Shanahan insists his friend is more patriot than terrorist.
Ahead of his landing at the Capitol, Hughes took to his website writing: “I have no violent inclinations or intent… Let’s keep the discussion focused on reform — not me — I’m just delivering the mail.”
Hughes knew what was at stake in carrying out his mission. The Tampa Bay Times said he expected to lose his job and his freedom. Hughes said he didn’t tell his wife or four children about the plan because he didn’t want them to be implicated.
You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. You don’t need to belong to the Air Force to deliver the air mail. Just maybe – you should receive commendation for courage in the face of politicians afraid to do a damned thing for folks’ civil rights.