Two Cuban migrants flew a motorized hang glider, reportedly 90 miles across the Straights of Florida, landing at Key West International Airport Saturday morning. The two were taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies and turned over to Border Patrol agents.
Video of the hang glider flying over Key West was posted online by WPLG-TV reporter Janine Stanwood:
DEVELOPING: migrants from Cuba in motorized glider/ultralight arrive in Key West this morning. They’re being processed by Border Patrol agents. More on @WPLGLocal10 at 6pm pic.twitter.com/WevJuC2REE
— Janine Stanwood (@JanineStanwood) March 25, 2023
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office posted photos and a statement:
Two Cuban migrants landed at Key West International Airport on a motorized hang glider at approximately 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
There were no serious injuries reported.
Both were turned over to the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Migrants land at Key West International Airport: https://t.co/RmY672b0bj pic.twitter.com/Y5D95hcL8g
— Florida Keys Sheriff (@mcsonews) March 25, 2023
Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar of the Miami Sector also posted photos, “Two Cuban migrants were taken into U.S. Border Patrol custody after landing at the Key West International Airport onboard a powered hang glider. No reported injuries. We appreciate the support from @mcsonews.”
𝐓𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐅𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐚:
Two Cuban migrants were taken into U.S. Border Patrol custody after landing at the Key West International Airport onboard a powered hang glider. No reported injuries. We appreciate the support from @mcsonews.#Breaking #Saturday #KeyWest #Cuba pic.twitter.com/KqqFlYqie1
— Chief Patrol Agent Walter N. Slosar (@USBPChiefMIP) March 25, 2023
Keys News reported on the decades-long history of Cubans seeking refuge in the U.S. by flying to Florida (excerpt):
Seaplane pilot Nick Pontecorvo received a close-up look at the plane as he was coming back from a trip over the reef.
“I see this thing coming at me, and it looks weird,” said Pontecorvo, who operates Keys Seaplanes. “I see it’s an ultralight, and it zips passed my wing.”
The landing occurred while South Florida is seeing one of its largest number of Cuban migrants migrations in years.
In October, a Cuban pilot landed an aging Russian biplane, once used for crop dusting, on a remote airstrip in the middle of the Everglades. The pilot contacted a control tower at the airport about 50 miles west of Miami and said he was running low on fuel and needed to land, according to published reports of the incident. The plane was reported to be a single-engine Antonov An-2 airplane. The pilot was the only passenger and said he worked for a Cuban state domestic flight charter company.
Between 2002 and 2003, three Cuban planes landed at Key West International Airport.
WPLG reported the October pilot was granted asylum:
“The Cuban pilot who made a daring escape from the island on a Soviet-era biplane was granted asylum, he and his attorneys announced last month.”
There were no reports as of this writing on the names or updated status of the migrants.
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