Cuba investigates crash landing of Nevada brothel foe
HAVANA (AP) – A man who once faked his death in Nevada to protest prostitution was the focus of an international investigation Wednesday after stealing a plane in Florida and flying it to Cuba.
Cuban authorities were looking into Tuesday’s crash-landing of a small plane by a novice pilot identified as Milo John Reese, who American authorities said had a history of disappearing.
A tall construction crane was used to move the small white craft from the rocky coast to more solid ground, apparently so it could be disassembled and taken to another site for further study.
Cuban authorities offered no additional information Wednesday on the pilot’s whereabouts or condition after issuing a brief statement about the Tuesday afternoon landing of the plane taken during a practice flight off Florida.
The plane hit the coast of Havana after apparently running out of fuel, said the brief Foreign Ministry statement published Wednesday in government newspapers.
It said the pilot received medical attention for injuries, but provided no other details. Witnesses to the crash-landing said that the pilot did not appear to be seriously hurt and was able to walk away from the plane.
Reese formerly lived in Nevada, where he was a vocal critic of prostitution. In November 1999, he came out of hiding after disappearing for 10 days, admitting he faked his own death and left his bloodstained car near the Mustang Ranch east of Reno after it was seized by the government.
Reese also once chained himself to the door of a Nevada Health Division building and applied for a license to open a gay brothel.
His wife in Nevada told police he had run away from home three times, according to the Monroe County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office.
”He was flaky. As we say in the business, he was flying with a broken wing,” Rob Grant, the owner of an air service in Marathon, told the Miami Herald. Grant said he stopped doing business with Reese this week because he considered him to be unstable.
The Cuban government statement said that although the pilot was supposed to fly the plane in the southern Florida area, ”he nevertheless took a southern route and disappeared from radar a few miles before reaching the Cuban coast, apparently then without fuel.”
The pilot was taking his first solo flight Tuesday at Florida Keys Marathon Airport, but just before he was supposed to land the Cessna 172, he pulled up and headed south, said instructor Ed Steigerwald of Paradise Aviation in Marathon.
Steigerwald identified his trainee as John Reese, a 55-year-old pizza deliveryman. The Miami Herald and the Key West Citizen identified the pilot as Milo John Reese.
Reese flew to Havana, bringing the Cessna to a rough landing on a rocky coastline, apparently flipping over as he landed.
The Cessna, lying upside down, was cordoned off and surrounded by more than a dozen police officials.
”It passed very close to the water,” said Johan Mora, 25, who was on a nearby beach when he saw the single-engine plane nearing the coast. Mora said the plane appeared to lose one of its wheels as it landed.
The pilot did not appear to be seriously injured, only dizzy after he got out of the plane and walked away, Mora said.
Witnesses said the pilot was taken away by authorities.
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