Cuban Defector Flies Stolen An-2 To Florida


A Cuban pilot defected to Florida on Friday but there won’t be much intelligence to be gleaned from the government aircraft he stole. The pilot, identified by a Spanish publication as Ruben Martinez, flew an ancient Antonov An-2 single-engine biplane at wavetop level before landing at Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport in the Everglades. “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,” Greg Chin, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department’s communications director, told Local 10 news.

Martinez reportedly left El Cedro, Cuba at 7 a.m. and headed for Florida. “He told airport staff that he was a defector from Sancti Spiritus, Cuba,” Chin said. The TSA and Customs and Border Protection are, of course, interested in how the school-bus sized relic of the Soviet era was able to sneak through one of the most surveilled coastlines in the country. Martinez is being held by Customs officials. The aircraft is owned by a Cuban company called ENSA, which is a subsidiary of the government’s Cuban Aviation Corporation. It normally supplies cropdusting aircraft but recently began carrying cargo.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Did some checking, there is no tower at TNT airport. Pilot must have communicated with Unicom on the field. Probably had no ADS-B or a working transponder. So much for all of the surveillance balloons tethered at Key West!

  2. “Martinez is being held by Customs officials”

    Serious question since millions enter the “country” every year with out question, vaccination, intent or any scrutiny..

  3. Of course the Cuban government will want the return of the AN-2 to deprive the Yankees of ANY benefit, right? The “administration” is allowing repeat allowing an unfettered invasion and surely there’s no chance that Martinez will be denied entry?

  4. The USA and our community needs pilots. Just like the USA is in need of doctors and nurses. In most cases people trained in these professions can get entry into the USA. Check out Public law 89-236 passed with bipartisan support. I for one, welcome another pilot to the USA.

    Also keep in mind that someone coming from Cuba to the USA is covered under Public Law 89-732.

    It seems that the US laws may be on the side of Martinez being able to legally become a USA citizen.

  5. I was wondering if he did a weight and balance, and calculated just how much fuel he would need. Running out of gas, and that wasn’t too long of a trip, and I think he needs more instruction… ..)

  6. Low and slow, indeed. No response, due to radar operators’ confusion as the “boat” they were tracking proceeded inland…

  7. I’m disappointed at the hateful political and racist comments of my fellow AvWeb readers. I had rather hoped they’d be better company.

  8. I also do not understand Jay’s Irish joke but I don’t see anything hateful in this thread.

    There are a couple jokes about the Antonov but I suspect most of us think its a cool airplane and nothing anti Russian is implied by those statements.

  9. “The “administration” is allowing repeat allowing an unfettered invasion and surely there’s no chance that Martinez will be denied entry?” US immigration policy with respect to Cubans has been more or less consistent for the last 50 years. My brother in law came from Cuba via Mexico hidden in the bathroom of an RV and eventually became a citizen. He has a wife, 2 kids, and is a successful engineering manager at a major US tech company. If this guy is half as successful as my brother in law AND he’s a pilot, I say “welcome”.

  10. George H, I urge you to get to know the monikers and opening gambits of the trolls and just skip whatever they are carrying on with. Exposing us to a call to negative emotion is their MO.

    As for the Irish, locking up our daughters didn’t work. They were too damn charming. I think we’re stuck with them. And Guinness is actually semi palatable.