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Hijacked Plane Down in the Waters Between Cuba and the U.S.Aired September 19, 2000 - 11:32 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We continue our coverage of this news out of Cuba, a hijacked plane that is now down in the waters between Cuba and the United States. The Coast Guard is on its way to rescue the people on this plane.
As we understand it, 18 people on board the plane, took off from Pinar del Rio, Cuba earlier today, headed toward the U.S., did not get very far. The plane is a Soviet-made Antonov AN-2. Once again, we believe with 18 people on board.
Coast Guard not able to tell us so far the condition of the plane or the people who were onboard there.
With more on that, let's bring in our Carl Rochelle, who has a little bit more, I believe, Carl, on how the U.S. was finding out about this hijacking in the first place.
CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, yes, I am told by sources that the way the word came to the United States was Havana air traffic control notified Miami air traffic controllers at about 8:45 this morning that there was a plane headed in the direction of a north, or northwesterly direction, that it had reported that it was hijacked. The pilot of the plane had reported that they had been hijacked. That is the way got the numbers. It is a crew of tow and 16 passengers on board, that is your 18 people.
At about 8:45 this morning, the word came from Havana center, Havana air traffic control, to the controllers in Miami. They told them, they did not know what the destination of the plane was, just that that is the direction that it was headed in.
It made it to the area we are told, going down southwest of the Marquesas, between the dry Targugas (ph), and the United States. If you look in that area of the map. That is an indication of about where it is. But that is where they believe that the plane went down.
Believed to be a float version of the AN-2, the Antonov AN-2. Now you were having a discussion a bit ago about the sophistication of this airplane and spare parts for it. I would tell you that this is, as airplanes go, it is pretty much basic airplane. It's an engine, and I suspect the controls are either driven with cables or push rods. You don't have any fancy hydraulics that would affect safety of flight. You may hydraulics in the flaps or some area like that, but the airplane would fly with direct control. So as long as you can keep the engine maintained and running and, as long as you make sure that the surfaces are OK, spare parts would not be a major problem.
So my guess would be that the biggest problem you are looking at here is that, for whatever reasons, didn't have enough fuel on board when it took off to make it out.
One other consideration, the plane down in the water, the air weather, the temperature or the thunderstorms are not as big of a consideration as that airplane being down in the water, the state of the seas, how rough they are, how high the sea are. Because a float plane can be damaged by high seas. They're not designed to land and stay afloat in a heavy ocean surf, heavy ocean breaking waves for a long period of time.
That would be a consideration if the plane landed safely on its floats. We don't know exactly what the state of it is right now.
KAGAN: We did hear earlier from Flip Spiceland that the weather in that it area for now appears to be pretty good.
Carl, I want to ask you one other thing. We are getting reports from our Pentagon or military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon that two U.S. F-15 fighter jets from the Florida Air National Guard and also from the Homestead Air Force Base were scrambled to intercept this plane. That sounds like some serious business.
ROCHELLE: Well, no, not really. It is not so serious as, in the terms of that want to know any airplane that approaches the U.S. coast, where it's from, and what it's doing, particularly if it's not on a flight plan.
Remember, Daryn, in that particular area down there, you are talking about an area that is concerned about drug traffic coming in. So any airplane that is not identified on a flight plan someone will scramble and take a look at it, Daryn.
KAGAN: All right, Carl Rochelle in Washington. I am also told we will hear more and be able to talk with Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon just after this.
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