The gyrocopter (gyroplane)

» Cruising speed is about 55 miles per hour. (The pilot told the Times that he planned to fly at 45 mph, 300 feet in the air.)

» Two-blade top rotor is not motorized; air currents turn it like a pinwheel.

It cannot hover;

if the engine fails, the craft comes down softly like a parachute.

» Can go as high as about 10,000 feet

» Weighs up to

254 pounds

 

» Costs about $10,000

 

» Fuel tanks hold less than 5 gallons.

» Needs a runway of about 100 feet to take off and less than 30 feet of space to land.

» Engine and propeller behind pilot provides thrust. Most engines are 55 to 100 horsepower.

» Range is about 70 to 80 miles

The pilot

The plan

» Doug Hughes, 61, of Ruskin, Fla. (Married with four children).

 

» Hughes carried 535 stamped envelopes containing letters advocating campaign finance reform, one for each member of Congress.

 

» Hughes said he e-mailed the Secret Service, news organizations and even President Obama ahead of time in hopes of not being shot down.

» Hughes is a postal carrier (thus the mail motif and U.S. Postal Service logo on the tail).

 

» Hughes has flown gyrocopters for more than a year.

» Hughes said he chose the craft because the open cockpit appears non-threatening.

 

The route

Taking off in the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pa., Hughes had to fly through three flight restriction areas.

 

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SOURCE: Sources: Brent Drake, autogyro instructor and vice president of the Popular Rotorcraft Association; pilot and plan information from the Tampa Bay Times and the web site TheDemocracyClub.org; FAA. GRAPHIC: Bonnie Berkowitz, Alberto Cuadra, Laris Karklis and Richard Johnson - The Washington Post. Published April 15, 2015.