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Sat, May 06, 2006

French Ultralighters Spark Air Security Scramble

Perhaps you heard of some tense moments in Key West, FL on Wednesday. For a short time, authorities thought they might be under attack from the air.

An aircraft was inbound from Cuba, with no word on the crew's intention. A fire rescue team rushed to the airport,as did a customs official and an FBI agent. Monroe County deputies responded with lights and sirens.

The aircraft turned out to be a homemade ultralight with two French adventurists onboard: Alexis Peltier, and his passenger, Yves Stindel. The two men weren't armed... nor were they weren't terrorists trying to sneak into the country.

They were just flying over to have their engine worked on.

"The aircraft was determined to be a legal target, meaning that they were communicating by radio and they were not considered a threat to the United States," said Zach Mann, spokesman for Miami's Customs and Border Protection office, to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Of course, the law prohibits Americans from traveling to and from Cuba without special permission. But that doesn't apply to foreign citizens... and for all the hoo-hah surrounding their arrival, the two environmentalists will apparently not be charged.

"They'll be processed and allowed to continue on their way," said Mann.

Mann added the men did not spend much time in Cuba, but stopped there to refuel after purchasing the plane -- painted with black zebra stripes, and emblazoned with the emblem for the "Wings For Earth" environmental group -- in Chile.

The men told authorities they were flying it to Africa by way of Greenland when they stopped in the US for some engine maintenance. Sounds like some adventure...



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