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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Brothers to the Rescue shoot down audio and transcript

"Something very tragic that we dreaded for a long time happened today, " Basulto said. "We lost our first pilots." - Jose Basulto, The Miami Herald, February 24, 1996

On February 24, 1996 between 3:00pm and 3:53pm three civilian planes from the United States flying in international airspace were hunted by two Cuban MiGs and two of the planes were blown to bits by air to air missiles killing four men at 3:21pm and 3:27pm while the third plane was pursued to within minutes of the Florida Keys but made it back. On the third plane were Sylvia Iriondo, Andrés Iriondo,  Jose Basulto, and Arnaldo Iglesias.

The audio below is in Spanish and is of the MiG pilots and tower hunting and killing Armando Alejandre Jr., Carlos Costa, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales.  The transcript is of the conversation between the Brothers to the Rescue pilots and the Cuban air traffic controller
that was taking place at the same time. It also demonstrates that the MiG pilots gave no warning as they carried out their deadly attacks that day. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1999 published an extensive report on the shoot down that is available online. Today at 3:00pm at Florida International University there will be a moment of silence marking the times when both planes were shot down.

Excerpts of the Conversation Between Brothers to the Rescue Pilots and Cuban Air Traffic Controllers

Recorded on Saturday, 2/24/96 at approximately 3:00 p.m.

Pilot Jose Basulto: Good Afternoon, Havana Center. November 2506 greets you. Please, we are crossing parallel 24 in five minutes and we will remain in your area about three to four hours.
Havana Center: Received.
Basulto: For your information, Havana Center, our area of operations are north of Havana today. So we will be in your area and in contact with you. A cordial greeting from Brothers to the Rescue and its President Jose Basulto, who is speaking to you.
Havana Center: OK. Received, sir. I inform you that the zone north of Havana is active. You run danger by penetrating that side of north parallel 24.
Basulto: We are aware of the danger each time we cross the area south of 24 but we are willing to do it. It is our right as free Cubans.
Havana Center: Then, we copy information, sir.
Basulto: Thank you.
Arnaldo Iglesias, passenger on Basultos plane: Do you want to shoot a [video] closeup? Alright.
Pilot Carlos Costa: Mike (Mario de la Peqa) is staying around 82-30 (longitude).
Basulto: Take east, no, not east, but a little more, a little slanted.
Basulto: Havana Center. November two five zero six.
Basulto: Cordial greeting. We report 12 miles north of Havana continuing our course of search and rescue eastward at this moment. A beautiful day -- Havana looks great from where we are. A cordial greeting to you and to all the people of Cuba on behalf of Brothers to the Rescue.
Havana Center: Havana received.
(Several minutes pass, until some of the Brothers pilots sight Cuban Mig fighters.)
Iglesias: They are going to shoot!
Basulto: Theyre going to shoot at us!
Sylvia Iriondo, a Basulto passenger: Theyre going to shoot at us?
Basulto: They shot at us. Is that a flare?
Basulto: We have a MiG, we have MiGs around us.
Costa: Theres a MiG in the air. Bogie in the air. Where are you?
Basulto: I know. The bogie is north of us at this time, and they dropped a flare apparently to take reference from.
de la Peña: Seagull Charlie. Seagull Mike. (A call for response from Costa)
de la Peña: Charlie. Mike.
Basulto: Negative.
de la Peña: Whats your position? Seagull Mike is two three three zero, eight two two nine.
Iglesias: Were at two three two five, eight two two zero.
Iglesias: Seagull Charlie. Seagull Charlie.
Basulto: Seagull Charlie, are you with us?
Basulto: Seagull Mike, are you with us?
de la Peña: Yes sir.
(Both pilots continue attempts to contact Costa. There is no answer.)
Male voice: Oh, shit.
Male voice: Whos there?
Peña Seagull Mike. Seagull One.
de la Peña: Im here. Have you heard from Charlie?
Basulto: Negative.
Basulto: Do you see that smoke to my left?
de la Peña: I dont see anything now. I did see smoke.
Basulto: Do you see smoke below the MiG?
de la Peña: I didnt see the MiG. I saw smoke and a flare.
Basulto: I saw the MiG and I saw smoke. I dont know whether it was a flare.
Iglesias: Yes it was a flare.
Basulto: With a chute?
Iglesias: Yes.
Basulto: Seagull Charlie. Seagull One.
Basulto: OK, were looking at another flare...another ball of smoke.
Basulto: Charlie, is that you?
Basulto: Seagull Mike.
Basulto: Seagull Mike. Seagull One.
Iglesias: Call Charlie and see if he answers.
Basulto: Seagull Charlie. Seagull Charlie.
Basulto: Seagull Mike.
Iglesias: The other thing is to try to call the Coast Guard to go check the smoke and see what it is.
Male voice: Lets go to the boat over there.
(More attempts to get a response from de la Peña.)
Male voice: Well, it looks like we have to get the hell out of here.
Basulto: Mike. One.
Iglesias: You have everything turned off?
Basulto: (answering a query, probably from Miami center) No sir, Im proceeding on my own navigation to Opa-locka. I have no emergency aboard my aircraft. The emergency is with the two fallen aircraft. I am proceeding to Opa-locka.
Basulto: (answering another query) Roger, sir, Roger. We are inbound Opa-locka about 30 miles west of Key West at this time, and we are reporting a possible emergency with two aircraft. The emergency is two overdue aircraft that we think we have lost some 30 miles North of Havana. Thats Brothers to the Rescue. Two aircraft. Smoke was seen in the vicinity of the area where we were tracking north of us, and we also saw two MiGs in the air

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