The death on 25 November of Fidel Castro brought to mind memories of 1961’s Bay of Pigs fiasco, the failed effort to invade Cuba by CIA-backed exiles. One of the last surviving pilots to have taken part recalls his role in the operations


Fidel Castro around the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Lockheed T-33A 711 Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria

When in 1959 the Cuban revolution overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, Rafael del Pino was a lieutenant in the 26th of July Movement commanded by Fidel Castro. He wanted to be a pilot for the Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria (FAR), the new name of the Cuban Air Force. Aged 13 he had received some flight instruction from a pilot with whom he became friendly — he even made a solo flight, but he had no licence.

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