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F.A.R. PLANES 1959

(two reports)

[Reference: Dade County OCB file #35005-B]

DATE: AUGUST 4. 1959

TO: Thomas J. Kelly, Metropolitan Sheriff

FROM: Frank Kappel, Supervisor, Criminal Intelligence


On 8/3/59, this writer was assigned to gather together all the reports made by the various divisions of this Department concerning the bombing of Cuban Air Force Aircraft.

Attached are copies of the report submitted by Patrol and Traffic Division Officers who made the initial investigation.  Also attached are copies of the reports submitted by the Detective Bureau and Technical Services Division.

At approximately 2:00 PM, 8/3/59, this Agent contacted WHITNEY S. POWERS, Vice President and Secretary of Air International at 3400 N.W. 59th Avenue.

POWERS stated his company has possession of ten T-28 North American training airplanes belonging to the Cuban Air Force.  Air International has been doing reconditioning and repairs on these airplanes and have had them on their premises for about a month.

These particular T-28's were purchased from a salvage dealer in Phoenix, Arizona for $2,500 each and were flown here for an additional $1,000.  They had been stored in Ft. Lauderdale prior to being brought to Miami.

Air International has been charging the Cuban Government between $5,000 to $6,000 each for the reconditioning, conversion and painting required.  These T-28's were built by North American in 1949 and have less than 300 flying hours on them.  The U.S. Air Force found the T-28 had a poorly designed exhaust system which poured the exhaust gases into the pilot's compartment.  They were subsequently declared surplus and were stored on a field at phoenix, Arizona.

The Batista Government originally acquired these airplanes and the present government has been trying to secure the necessary export permit that is required before the aircraft may leave the U.S.

The T-28's were assigned the numbers 150 to 160 inclusive by the Cuban Air Force.  Numbers 150, 151 and 152 are paid for, the others are not.

Planes #157, 152, 153 and 151 were rigged with the home made bombs. The bombs in numbers 152 and 153 were the only ones that exploded.  The others bombs remained unexploded in the engine cowls.

The bombs were placed in the right cowl of #151 and in the left cowl of #153.  Likewise #152, (one of the T-28's paid for and subsequently damaged) had the bomb in the right cowl, #157 had it in the left.  This indicates the bombs were probably placed in the planes by two persons.

DICK SEKMAN, an employee of Air International and an F.A.A. Inspector estimated the damage to the two T-28's between $8,000 to $10,000 each.  He further stated they were beyond economical repair.  Air International has insurance under the Port rules covering Hangar Keepers Liability.  POWERS stated the Insurance Company representative believes this type of loss in not covered in this policy.

SEKMAN further stated he observed a medium blue 50 Dodge or Plymouth parked facing east on the north side of 36th Street two days prior to the bombing.  This vehicle was off the pavement near the fence and apparently did not move for two days.  At dawn on 8/2/59 it was gone.  No further description is available at this time.

Technical Services advised the bombs were made of dynamite that had been broken up and mixed with sand; the mixture was then placed in waxed milk shake containers and a fuse inserted.

It is the general belief of persons at Air International that the bombs were placed by the MASFERRER faction.

Further reports and information to follow.

Respectfully submitted,

Intelligence Agent

FRANK KAPPEL, Supervisor
Criminal Intelligence

August 5, 1959

TO: Thomas J. Kelly
       Metropolitan Sheriff

FROM: Detective Leo R. Joffre
             Special Investigation Squad

SUBJECT: Bombing of Aircraft

1.  On the evening of August 3, 1959, this writer was assigned to further investigation on this case as per instructions from Chief T. A. BUCHANAN.  I subsequently received all available reports on the incident from Detective EDWARD CLODE of Criminal Intelligence.

2.  On August 4, 1959, at approximately 9:30 a.m., I proceeded to AIR INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, located at 3400 N. W. 59th Avenue, Miami, Florida.  At this location I contacted Mr. WHITNEY S. POWERS, Vice President and Secretary of AIR INTERNATIONAL.

3.  Information from the aforementioned was in effect the same as stated in previous reports.  His company had in their possession ten T-28, North American training planes which are the property of the Cuban Air Force.  These planes were purchased in Phoenix, Arizona for $2,500.00 each and flown here at the cost of $1000.00 each.  Mr. POWERS stated that his company had been reconditioning these aircraft at a cost of $5,000.00 to $6,000.00 each.  He stated that the Cuban government had paid his company the cost of the reconditioning on two of the aircraft but on none of the others.  Further payment is expected by Mr. POWERS in the near future.

4.  On August 2, 1959, at approximately 1:55 a.m., unknown person or persons entered the AIR INTERNATIONAL property and placed four homemade bombs into the engine cowlings of aircraft Numbers 157, 152, 153, and 151.  The bombs in planes 152 and 153 exploded and caused approximately $8,000.00 to $10,000.00 damage.  The damage is such that the planes are beyond economical repair, as new aircraft could be purchased for the cost of the repair.

5.  Officers ROBINSON and PHILLIPS in County car 669 had been dispatched to the scene, along with Detective D. DELONGCHAMPS.  Detective DELONGCHAMPS had removed the two unexploded bombs from the aircraft.  The scene was processed by Sergeant BRODIE, JIM GRANT and WILLIAMS of the Mobile Unit.

6.  In the course of my investigation I contacted Mr. DICK SEKMAN, an employee of AIR INTERNATIONAL.  He informed me that he had observed a blue 1950 Dodge or Plymouth parked on the north side of N. W. 36th Street, facing east.  This auto was observed two days prior to the bombing and was gone at the time the investigating commenced.  Apparently this vehicle had broken down.  It was parked approximately a quarter of a mile from the scene.

7.  At the time of the incident two persons were on the premises of AIR INTERNATIONAL; the watchman, EDWARD L. ROHRICH, 4250 S. W. 8th Street, and A/3C ARMANDO C. LOPEZ, of the Cuban Air Force, Both persons observed the second explosion.

8.  I contacted Captain RANDOLFO C. COSSIO, of the Cuban Air Force, who was in charge of the aircraft but at the time was unable to gain anything of value.

9.  I contacted the personnel manager of AIR INTERNATIONAL and learned that the company had several latins employed.  He informed me that a JUSTO PEREZ, 951 East 10th Place, Hialeah, TU 7-6440, was employed as a mechanic helper and had been employed since 10-23-56.  He is a white male, Cuban, approximately 30 years of age, and is a CASTRO supporter.

10.  A HECTOR E. MOJARRIETA, W/M, Cuban, age 35, 45 N. W. 24th Street, is also employed as a helper since 2-3-58 and is a CASTRO man.

11.  HIPOLITO CANAL, W/M, Cuban, 370 N. w. 25th Street, employed March 18, 1959, is also a CASTRO man.

12.  I was informed that a Columbian terminated his employment in July and went to Columbia for personal reasons.  His name is V. E. VARGAS.

13.  A LUIS A. LANAO, W/M, Cuban, of 608 S. W. 15th Avenue, terminated his employment in July.  He was laid off due to lack of work.

14.  A M. ROSADO, W/M, Cuban, of 34 N. W. 26th Street, terminated his employment on 5-20-59 of his own accord.

15.  Mr. POWERS informed me that he does not believe that any of the aforementioned personnel have any connection with the bombing.  He states that all the aforementioned personnel are pro-CASTRO.   He stated also that whoever committed the act did not have much knowledge of aircraft.  He stated that they were amateurs because they could have completely destroyed the aircraft by placing the bombs in the cockpits of the aircraft.

16.  Attempts have been made to obtain information from various sources in regard to the incident, buy these attempts have been met with negative results.  It is believed that members of MASFERRER'S group were connected, but nothing conclusive has been obtained.  Further attempts are being made to receive information in regard to the incident.

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