Questions remain in gyrocopter Capitol landing

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- How was a 61-year-old mailman able to fly through some of the most heavily defended airspace in the world, and land on the lawn of the Capitol?

That is the question many are still trying to answer after Dough Hughes flew his gyrocopter right past the Secret Service snipers on the White House roof and landed in front of the Capitol on Wednesday.

The Homeland Security Secretary says Hughes literally flew right under the radar. And NORAD says Hughes' trip never scrambled any assets.

Jim Konczos, the head of the Capitol Police Union described the incident as a huge intel failure.

The Secret Service had spoken with Hughes before, and the Tampa Bay Times said it alerted both the Secret Service and the Capitol Police to Hughe's plan.

"I don't believe the authorities are going to shoot down a 60 year old mailman in a flying bicycle," Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times before he left.

But apparently no one even contemplated shooting him down because they never saw him coming.

"If this wasn't detected, all the other conversations are irrelevant," says Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who served on two Presidential details. "You can have the best air defenses systems in the world, but if you don't see the threat coming at you, they are all irrelevant."

Hughes flew right into a huge radar blind spot below at about 400 feet. The military is testing a blimp at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds to detect this type of threat, but it may be months before it's ready.

Hughes said he sent to an email about his plan to info@barackobama.com and The Tampa Bay Times said it made calls to the Secret Service and the Capitol Police.

"Terrorists don't announce their flights before they take off, ok. Terrorists don't broadcast their flight plans," Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times prior to his trip.

Both Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton are urging people to keep this in perspective.

Johnson says it's too soon to know if security changes are needed. And he says the government needs to find the right balance between a free and open society and the security and protection of federal buildings


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