A 62-year-old mailman pleaded guilty in a criminal case over his landing a gyrocopter on the lawn of the White House. The Florida man issued his guilty plea in U.S. District Court last Friday in a plea deal that would give him a reduced punishment.
Specifically, he pleaded guilty to operating an aircraft without an airman's certificate. His sentencing hearing has not been scheduled yet. The man could face a maximum sentence of three years in federal prison, but his defense attorney has requested that the judge sentence him to probation.
Said His Gyrocopter Landing Was an Act of Civil Disobedience
The man refused to accept two previous plea deals. He said that his April 15 landing of the gyrocopter on the White House lawn was an act of civil disobedience to bring more attention to the issue of campaign finance reform.
The man flew his gyrocopter from Pennsylvania and set it down on the White House's west lawn. With him he had 535 letters for each member of Congress. The stunt cost the man his postal service job.
Originally Hit With 6 Criminal Charges
Originally, the man was hit with six criminal charges. They included: violation of aircraft registration requirements and breach of national defense airspace. According to the law, it is illegal to fly aircraft inside the airspace of the White House and Capitol.
Gyrocopters resemble helicopters but they do not rely on their unpowered blades for thrust. The helicopter-like rotors of gyrocopters serve as a kind of wing, and a propeller mounted on the back provides thrust.
In a report by the Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Homeland Security, the landing was one of several high-level White House security breaches at the time and it revealed the need for better air security technology at the presidential mansion.
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