Cellphone video shows Cuban migrants flying into Key West airport on hang glider

Authorities: Migrants being processed at U.S. Border Patrol station in Marathon

KEY WEST, Fla. – Two Cuban migrants were taken into custody Saturday morning after landing at Key West International Airport on a motorized hang glider, authorities said.

According to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Adam Linhardt, it happened around 10:30 a.m.

Linhardt said there were no serious injuries reported.

Witnesses told Local 10 News that they heard the motor of the glider before seeing it in the air.

“I actually heard it first. I heard that glider in the air (and) I heard the motor,” said Christopher Herrera. “I actually looked up because it shouldn’t be where it was, that’s in the path of Key West Airport.”

According to Linhardt, airport officials were first to arrive at the scene and then Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies followed.

Authorities said both of the migrants were then turned over to the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol and will be processed at a station in Marathon.

Local pilot Nick Pontecorvo told Local 10 News that he spotted the paraglider from the air.

“It was pretty awesome. To make that flight 90 miles over open ocean, especially with the wind, that takes a lot of courage,” he said.

The landing coming among a historic surge in Cuban migration where thousands are seen making the 90 plus mile journey by sea.

In October, Ruben Martinez Machado landed a plane at the Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport in the Everglades on Oct. 21.

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.

Witnesses of the paragliding migrants were amazed and thankful that the two managed to land safely.

No doubt about it, they were absolutely in the final approach of the major airlines,” said Ferrera. “If there was a plane coming, either they would have to turn or the plane would have to turn.”

Local 10 News obtained cellphone video from a viewer that shows the migrants on the motorized hand glider before preparing to land, which you can watch the video in the tweet below.

Authorities respond to migrant landing at Key West airport. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

About the Authors:

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.