Gyrocopter pilot’s wife: ‘My husband is a patriot’

RUSKIN, FL (WFLA) – Douglas Hughes landed his gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn trying to deliver letters to Congress. His wife Alena says he is a patriot and a law-abiding citizen.

Hughes flew his gyrocopter through the restricted airspace around the National Mall landing it on the West Lawn Wednesday. He was carrying 535 letters to Congress about the campaign finance reform. He was detained and charged with operating an unregistered aircraft and violating national airspace.

Hughes was released from jail but had to give up his passport and is not allowed in Washington DC any more. He is also not allowed to fly.

His wife Alena says she didn’t know this could have happened.

“From the public point of view this is very brave,” she said in an exclusive interview with WFLA News Channel 8.

But she added that she almost feels betrayed because if something happened to Doug it would have caused “a big grief to the family.”

“Law is law,” she said. “And he broke the law.”

Alena told us she couldn’t sleep for two nights and was really worried about her husband. She can’t concentrate on anything and just wants him to get home.

“I am his wife and I will support him no matter what,” she said.

Alena is from Belarus. She and Doug met online and then had a few dates in Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia before she moved to the US in 2002 and the two got married. They just celebrated their 13th anniversary last weekend.

Alena knew that Doug was very patriotic and interested in politics. He followed the news and was in the know of the current political events. He seemed to have supported President Obama and thought that Congress blocked many of the President’s efforts, she said.

Alena said Doug bought the gyrocopter about two years ago and she wasn’t very happy about the purchase. She said this wasn’t a very good way to spend the family’s money. Doug kept the gyrocopter at the Wauchula airport where he worked on it. That’s where he likely learned how to fly it.

Alena asked him if he needed a license and he explained that for this type of an aircraft he didn’t need anything like that. Alena said he was sure he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Alena said Doug had his own lawyer in Washington and she hired one in Ruskin to represent her. Attorney Paul Carr said that Alena was shocked and in tears when they talked about the situation.

“After discussing the situation with her I didn’t see any criminal intent,” Carr said. “In fact there’s a lot of people that would like to approach Congress.”

Hughes is expected to come back to Florida in the next couple of days.

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