From Texas to Cuba: history of a dream

For decades, a flight from the United States to Havana was considered impossible due to restrictions between these two neighboring countries. For a short while, these restrictions were relieved, but travel was limited to IFR flights only.  

John Craparo, Mike Baker, Jon Prickett, and Dayton Dabbs chose to take advantage of this narrow window of opportunity and set out from Taylor (Texas) to visit the island in two Magni M-16 gyroplanes.  This month marks the one year anniversary of a historic trip that Magni Gyro is pleased to have been a part of.

A late start and some initial troubles created a slew of questions as to whether or not the team of gyros would ever make it out of Texas, and strong headwinds plagued the team all the way to Marathon (Florida), the last stop in the United States. These unexpected delays turned the two-day trip into three.  Luckily, the beauty of the Southeast United States made it all worth while.


The ever-changing terrain from the pine trees of East Texas to the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys was accented by the casinos of Biloxi (Mississippi), the tourist lined beaches of Pensacola, and the swampland of Central and South Florida, providing endless photography opportunities and memories.

Upon reaching Marathon, the team was informed that their expected fuel stop of Key West (Florida) was not on the international flight plan that their handling team had assembled, and the expected 90nm flight over the gulf waters was actually 150nm.  While normally, this is no problem for the Magni M-16, strong headwinds created a cloud of uncertainty of whether “the juice is worth the squeeze”, as Jon Prickett said. Ultimately, the team decided to press onwards with an agreement that by the time they hit the ADIZ (the point of no returning to the United States), they would each have greater than ¾ fuel indicated, and their ground speed would be at least 55knots, or they would turn back. Upon reaching the ADIZ, each aircraft had slightly greater than ¾ fuel, and they were indicating 56 knots over the ground.  A close call, but one that was decided met the minimum requirements.  

There is a feeling of desertion when flying in international airspace with nothing but water as far as the eye can see and a full understanding that the animals swimming in that water may not be as friendly as they are behind the glass at Sea World. This led to a sense of relief when a very broken radio transmission came over the headset.

The Cuban people were incredibly hospitable, the food was amazing, and Havana was truly a place to “eat, drink, and be merry”.  The team will be forever grateful to the Cuban people for their hospitality, the wonderful aviation network in the United States for the freedoms of flying, and to Magni Gyro for building a gyroplane that is reliable even in the most unnerving conditions. 

The video of their adventure is available in the Experience section of our website.