A Cuban who landed a Soviet-built warplane at a Navy base near here and requested political asylum was identified by another Cuban defector as a top pilot in Fidel Castro's air force.
The pilot was identified as Maj. Orestes Lorenzo Perez, 38, by sources in Washington.Ensign Robin Perkins said the pilot was allowed to land Wednesday at Key West Naval Air Station in Boca Chica after radioing his intentions.
He was turned over to immigration authorities after being interviewed by State Department and Customs officials, Perkins said.
Brig. Gen. Rafael del Pino Diaz, who defected from Cuba in 1987 in a small plane, told Miami Spanish-language station WAQI-AM: "I know Orestes. He was the first in his class. He's one of the best pilots of the Cuban Air Force."
Del Pino was said to be the most significant military defector since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959.
In a rare admission of the defection, Cuba called it "an act of treason." A Navy statement initially identified Perez's plane as a MiG-27BN - a single-seat, single-engine, attack aircraft introduced in the late 1970s.
But Pentagon officials were looking at the possibility it was an older, less advanced MiG-23, said Cmdr. Steve Honda, a Navy spokesman in Norfolk, Va.
- The pimple dilemma: To pop or not to pop
- Dad who placed ad for a wife for his son gets...
- Prosecutors: Dad, son fleeing police killed...
- Quiz: Name that movie (filmed in Utah)
- Quiz: Who said it?: Utah coaches edition
- Quiz: Which Utah attraction should you road...
- Quiz: Which epic Airbnb in Utah should be...
- Police shoot, critically injure 'prime...
- Gov. Gary Herbert calls margin of... 39
- 45 new locations open to provide free... 38
- Misty Snow likely to advance to general... 34
- Supreme Court abortion decision could... 31
- Arches Health Plan shutdown leaves $33... 30
- Rep. Love hosts poverty discussion with... 18
- History-making transgender U.S. Senate... 14
- How the tech industry grew a rural Utah... 13