Reese, Landing in Cuba, Calls Himself "Juan Miguel"
- Via NY Transfer News * All the News That Doesn't Fit
[Prior reports said this guy was from Reno, Nevada. This one
says he works at a Pizza Hut in Marathon, Florida (where Paradise
Aviation is located. And it gets weirder: according to one witness
he said his name was Juan Miguel.]
Tuesday July 31 10:11 PM ET (via yahoo)
U.S. Student Pilot Lands in Cuba
By CHRISTOPHER NEWTON, Associated Press Writer
HAVANA (AP)--A student [sic] pilot taking his first solo flight at a Florida
airport Tuesday stole the plane and flew to Havana, bringing the Cessna to
a rough landing on a rocky coastline. Witnesses said he walked away from
the craft, apparently unharmed.
The pilot, John Reese, was taking a short test flight at an airport in the
town of Marathon in the Florida Keys, said his instructor, Ed
Steigerwald. But just before Reese was supposed to land the Cessna 171, he
pulled up and headed south.
He brought the plane down on the rocks along the coast in eastern Havana --
some 140 miles from Marathon -- apparently flipping over as he landed. The
Cessna, lying upside down afterward, was cordoned off and surrounded by more
than a dozen police officials in uniform and civilian clothing.
"It passed very close to the water," said Johan Mora, 25, one of numerous
witnesses on a nearby beach who saw the small plane nearing the coast in
the late afternoon. Mora said the plane appeared to lose one of its
wheels as it landed, near the Naval Hospital.
The pilot did not appear to be seriously injured, only dizzy after he got
out of the plane and walked away, Mora said.
Fabian Molina Herrera, a 19-year-old student, said the pilot appeared to
have scratches on his arms. "He said his name was 'Juan Miguel,' that he
was from Florida and he asked for some water," said Molina as he sat on his
bicycle surrounded by curious bystanders trying to get a look at the plane.
Witnesses said the pilot was taken away by authorities.
There was no immediate report on the landing from the Cuban government,
which often waits hours, even days, to comment on incidents that could
have political consequences. The incident was not mentioned by state media.
Reese was a driver for Pizza Hut in Marathon, Steigerwald said.
Steigerwald, who works for Marathon-based Paradise Aviation, said Reese's
test for the day involved "just to take off, stay in the traffic
pattern and come right back around and land."
"We did not discuss any forms of navigation, especially long-range
navigation," Steigerwald said. "He obviously had some prior
experience, somewhere along the way."
A Navy plane made visual contact with the white Cessna as it crossed the
Florida Straits, but never received a radio response from the pilot, a
State Department official said on the condition of anonymity. The
Navy followed the plane to the edge of Cuban airspace before
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- And flying lessons aren't cheap....seems expensive for a pizza delivery
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