YUBA, CA (CBSMiami) – Fidel Castro has issued a lot of orders in his time as Cuban leader and now, retired dictator, but did he really tell a California man to hijack a helicopter for him? That’s the claim made to deputies following an attempted hijacking in Yuba, California.
CBSSacramento.com reports helicopter pilot Erik Vandagriff was preparing to take off from Yuba County Airport for a pilot training session last Thursday when he saw a man running down the secure area of the runway.
Vandagriff said he got out of the chopper to confront the man, not knowing what he wanted, when the running man raced past him, jumped inside the chopper, and waited for takeoff.
The stunned pilot first figured out that the man, later identified as Zachary Hinders, was not armed, and then opened the door, told him he wasn’t taking him anywhere, and ordered him out.
Eventually Hinders jumped out and took off running down the active runway, jumping over a fence at the end.
Once the man was gone and the helicopter secured, Vandagriff said he flagged down sheriffs deputies who were able to catch Hinders and take him into custody. It was to deputies that Hinders revealed his mission; he said Fidel Castro wanted him to take the helicopter.
Hinders was booked into the Yuba County Jail on suspicion of burglary, attempted robbery and attempting to take a helicopter without the owner’s consent. Bail was set at $25,000.
A message left at the Cuban Interest Section in Washington asking ifCastro had really wanted the helicopter was not immediately returned.