Cuban authorities accuse pilot who defected in Soviet-era biplane of ‘air piracy’

Cuban authorities are accusing the Cuban pilot who defected to the United States on Friday of international and national crimes.

The Instituto de Aeronáutica Civil de Cuba, or the IACC, released a statement accusing the pilot of international air piracy, and of violations of operational safety, and Cuban aeronautical regulations.

On Saturday, IACC identified the pilot who landed the Antonov AN-2 at about 11:30 a.m., Friday, at the Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport as Rubén Martinez Machado.

Martinez Machado was on flight CNI 400 by the Empresa Cubana de Servicios Aéreos, or ENSA, and departed from Sancti-Spiritus at 7 p.m., to El Cedro for agricultural spraying work, according to IACC.

After completing the second application flight, Martinez Machado, who is from Santa Clara and had a pilot license that was supposed to expire on Oct. 30, did not return to the runway, according to IACC.

U.S. federal agents were investigating how the pilot managed the flight in the Soviet-era single-engine biplane. A witness fishing in the Florida Straits shared a video showing him flying low over the water.

“The pilot of the plane notified the Miami-Dade County tower at TNT Airport that he was low on fuel and had to land there minutes before he landed,” said Greg Chin, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department’s communications director.

Witness shares video of low flight at sea

Watch the 6 p.m., Friday, report

A 29-year-old Cuban man who was flying alone landed the Antonov AN-2 at about 11:30 a.m., at the Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport, at 54575 E. Tamiami Trail, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Watch the initial report on the landing

U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Miami Sector are investigating a single-engine biplane landing on Friday in Ochoppee.

Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Wilson Louis and Investigative Reporter Jeff Weinsier contributed to this report.


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