Prosecutors say DC gyrocopter came dangerously close to plane

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Prosecutors Say DC Gyrocopter Came Dangerously Close to Plane

The man who landed a gyrocopter on the lawn of the Capitol building last year narrowly avoided a serious catastrophe, according to prosecutors.

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A court filing Friday alleges Douglas Hughes, an activist who flew his gyrocopter from Florida to D.C. in order to protest campaign finance laws, came within 1,400 yards of a Delta flight taking off from Reagan National Airport.

See more from the incident in the gallery below:

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Prosecutors say DC gyrocopter came dangerously close to plane
UNITED STATES - MAY 21: Doug Hughes conducts a news conference outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, May 21, 2015, after pleading not guilty to six counts regarding his landing of a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the Capitol in April. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: A gyrocopter seen after it landed on the West Front of the US Capitol on Capitol Hill causing the building and visitor center to be locked down Wednesday afternoon in Washington DC, United States on April 15, 2015. Reports state that a manned aircraft or gyrocopter landed on a lawn near the US Capitol. Police have arrested the pilot. (Photo by Erkan Avci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Various officials take a close up look at the scene where a small helo or gyrocopter landed on the US Capitol South Lawn area April 15, 2015, in Washington, DC. A man identified as Doug Hughes, 61, flying a gyrocopter illegally landed his aircraft on the west lawn of the US Capitol Wednesday, triggering street closures around the building and prompting a police investigation.'The US Capitol Police continues to investigate, with one person detained,' USCP officer Shennell Antrobus told AFP. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Capitol Hill police officers and other officials lift a gyrocopter that landed on the US Capitol South Lawn, on to a trailer, April 15, 2015, in Washington, DC. A man identified as Doug Hughes, 61, flying a gyrocopter, illegally landed his aircraft on the west lawn of the US Capitol Wednesday, triggering street closures around the building and prompting a police investigation. Hughes is described as a mailman, and a logo appearing to be that of the US Postal Service was visible on the tail fin of the aircraft. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Capitol Hill police officers lift a gyrocopter that landed on the US Capitol South Lawn, on to a trailer, April 15, 2015, in Washington, DC. A man identified as Doug Hughes, 61, flying a gyrocopter, illegally landed his aircraft on the west lawn of the US Capitol Wednesday, triggering street closures around the building and prompting a police investigation. Hughes is described as a mailman, and a logo appearing to be that of the US Postal Service was visible on the tail fin of the aircraft. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: A member of the U.S. Capitol Police Bomb Squad works to check and secure a gyrocopter that landed on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol April 15, 2015 in Washington, DC. Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old postal worker from Ruskin, Florida, landed the lightweight helicopter on the Capitol lawn to protest against government corruption and to promote campaign finance reform. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: A gyrocopter sits on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol with members of the U.S. Capitol Police nearby April 15, 2015 in Washington, DC. Doug Hughes, 61, from Ruskin, FL., landed the gyrocopter on the West Lawn and was arrested immediately. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: A gyrocopter that illegally landed on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol is loaded onto a U.S. Capitol Police trailer April 15, 2015 in Washington, DC. Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old postal worker from Ruskin, Florida, was quickly arrested after he landed the lightweight helicopter on the Capitol lawn to protest against government corruption and to promote campaign finance reform. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Prosecutors say a slight deviation in the flight path of either craft could have led to a lethal collision. They want Hughes to serve jail time as a deterrent to any other political protesters contemplating a similar stunt.

Hughes agreed to plead guilty to a felony last November, provided prosecutors only asked for a maximum sentence of 10 months. However, his defense argues Hughes shouldn't spend any time in jail since his flight resulted in no injury or property damage.

Hughes' sentencing is set for April 13. The judge's decision could affect Hughes' plans to run for Congress; the Democrat wants to challenge Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

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