Migrants who landed hang glider in Key West held in Pompano Beach

Cuban run media denounces act, says migrants stole hang glider

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – Two Cuban migrants who made the journey from Cuba to Key West over the weekend were being held in Pompano Beach on Monday.

David Lopez Alfonso and Ismael Hernandez Chirino arrived at the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach after their shocking landing on Saturday.

It was quite a sight for witnesses who saw them land at Key West International Airport uninjured. Cellphone video shows the hang glider low over the area.

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

Local pilot Nick Pontecorvo spotted them 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,” said Pontecorvo.

Cuba state run media is reporting that the glider belongs to the Aviation Club of Cuba and is used for tourism. They are denouncing the act and calling it a theft.

The club’s Facebook page posted the same statement, calling for the men to be punished and saying they want their equipment back. They also posted a photo of who appears to be the two migrants.

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

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.

The landing comes among a historic surge in Cuban migration, with thousands of people making the more than 90-mile journey by sea.

Cubans, who are leaving the island nation in their largest numbers in six decades, were stopped 34,675 times at the U.S. border with Mexico in November, up 21% from 28,848 times in October.

The two men have been placed under quarantine for a 10-day period and should have a hearing within the next few weeks.

About the Authors:

Sanela Sabovic joined Local 10 News in September 2012 as an assignment editor and associate producer. In August 2015, she became a full-time reporter and fill-in traffic reporter. Sanela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a concentration in radio, television and film from DePaul University.

Veronica Crespo writes for Local10.com and also oversees the Español section of the website. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism and Spanish.