New York Times
April 17, 1961.  p. 1.

Asylum Granted To Three Airmen
But Names and Whereabouts of Fliers Who Landed in Florida Are Kept Secret

By Tad Szulc
Special to The New York Times

        MIAMI, April 16--The three fliers who landed in Florida yesterday after having bombed air bases in Cuba were granted political asylum in the United States today.
        In a departure from the usual practice in asylum cases here, the identity of the three men and their whereabouts remained secret.
        Edward Ahrens, district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service here, announced tonight that the fliers had received asylum. He said the men, who described themselves as defectors from the air force of Premier Fidel Castro, were free on parole.
One Plane Carried 2 Men
        Mr. Ahrens said that to protect the fliers' families, their names could not be revealed and that their place of hiding had to be kept secret. he refused to comment on a report that the fliers were no longer in the United States.
        It was reported in some Cuban quarters here tonight that one, or all three, of the fliers might be presented at the United Nations tomorrow in connection with the resumption of the debate in the General Assembly Political Committee on Cuban charges of United States aggression.
        Such an appearance would be designed to disprove Premier Castro's allegations that the men were not defectors but fliers in the service of the rebel movement based in Guatemala.
        No confirmation of the report that the men might go to the United Nations was available from United States authorities here.
        The three men flew to Florida aboard B-26 bombers. One of the planes landed at Miami with only a pilot on board. The other landed at the Naval Air Station in Key West with a pilot and crewman on board.
        The flier who arrived in Miami had been taken into custody by immigration officials immediately after landing. Later a statement attributed to him was issued, describing a defection by him and two fellow pilots.
        The mystery surrounding the three fliers was compounded today by a series of apparent contradictions. These occurred in the statement released in the name of the pilot in Miami and subsequent information made available by spokesmen here and in New York for the Democratic Revolutionary Council, the top command of the anti-Castro forces abroad.
        The pilot asserted he was one of four B-26 pilots in Cuba who had planned for three months to escape from Premier Castro's service. He was quoted as having said that suspected betrayal by one of the four pushed them last Thursday into deciding to act at once.
        The council's spokesmen mentioned six aircraft, one of which was reported to have been shot down in flames. Premier Castro also said yesterday that one of the attacking aircraft had been brought down.
Planes' Fate Unclear
        With only two of the B-26's accounted for until now--one is here and the other is in Key West--the fate of the others mentioned was not clear.
        A council spokesman said tonight some of the aircraft had landed in a "foreign country." The pilot in Miami declared in his statement that a shortage of fuel made it impossible for him to reach "our agreed destination."
        The flier's narrative suggested that three aircraft had been involved in the bombing and strafing of the bases, but only two have been accounted for, the two that landed in Florida.
        The confusion over what and how many aircraft participated in yesterday's attack deepened still further tonight with an announcement by the Revolutionary Council that another pilot, identified as Lieut. Orestes Acosta, has landed in a "foreign country" after a Cuban raid yesterday.
        The announcement said that this pilot, flying a T-33 jet trainer converted into a combat aircraft, bombed Santiago on Cuba's eastern coast.
        Cuba had three T-33 trainers, purchased before Premier Castro's victory. one was lost in 1959 and the Cuban Air Force was believed to have the two others still in operation.
        Premier Castro's charges that the attacking aircraft had taken off from Guatemala became the principal topic of conversation among the regime's opponents in Miami. Meanwhile, United States authorities refused to discuss any details concerning the aircraft that had arrived in Florida.
        The planes are being held by customs officials pending a decision in Washington over their ultimate fate. Navy authorities in Key West refused to discuss the appearance of the aircraft there.
        It was reported, however, that the two fliers in Key West had left for Miami this morning by bus.
        It was reported here yesterday that the two B-26's had not been spotted on radar as they approached Miami and Key West.
        The reports said control towers at the two airports became aware of the bombers' approach only when the pilots called by radio for permission to land.
        Dr. Manuel Antonio de Varona, appointed yesterday as Defense Minister of the anti-Castro exile group, made a hurried trip here from New York early today. He went back to New York this morning after what was described as a night of urgent conferences in Miami.