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Flights into Guatanamo Bay

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Flights into Guatanamo Bay

Old 17th Jan 2022, 12:00
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Flights into Guatanamo Bay

Does anyone knows the procedure for US aircraft to land and depart from Guantanamo Bay? Although surrounded by Miami Oceanic airspace the last 50 miles or so are inside Havana FIR , and the last 22 inside sovereign Cuban airspace. Also there is the Cuban civil airport of Guantanamo city nearby with an intersecting runway axis. Was recently overflying the Bay (at FL380) and saw an aircraft on APP there and wondering what the procedure was. .
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Old 17th Jan 2022, 12:27
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FOR APPROACH CLEARANCE CALL NAVY LEEWARD TOWER. P-1002 NAVAL AIRSPACE RESERVATI ON - At no time shall aircraft, other than public aircraft of the United States, be navigated into Guantanamo Bay Naval Airspace Reservation unless authorized b y Commander, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
https://www.fltplan.com/AirportInformation/MUGM.htm
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Old 17th Jan 2022, 19:44
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Thanks Less Hair, interesting but it does not explains how they get through Cuban controlled airspace. and through the CTR of the nearby Cuban airport .
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Old 17th Jan 2022, 21:13
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It'll take a few good men to answer that, but there will be no records of any flights into or out of Guantanamo!
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Old 18th Jan 2022, 00:20
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gTMO flights

I worked there in the 80s and 90s.Flights left Fort lauderdale and flew down the Bahamas then through the windward passage ,turn right and your almost there!
There was a daily service then by "Air Sunshine which ran Ft Lauderdale/GTMO/Kingston and return.Also two trooping flights .I can say that landing west to east was rather exciting in a 727 which had a tight turn from the west end turning 90degs over the sea to line up on the runway so as not to fly over the cuban fenceline!The daily flights were usually small twin Cessnas.Landing East to west was the norm .Before it was turned into a concetration camp it was a great place to work,especially if you enjoyed SCUBA!!
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Old 18th Jan 2022, 00:24
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I flew in and out of Guantanamo a few times. Usually we landed straight in with a tailwind and took off the other way.
A DC-8 tried to approach and land into the wind but had to make tight turns downwind to base to final, then stalled
and crashed. (This is all from memory 27 years ago, but at the time the distance to Cuban airspace was only 3 NM or so, hence
the tight turns)
The airspace may have changed but we had special procedures and frequencies to get in there, can't post
it here as none of it was on any public charts.
I flew civilian planes on contract to the DOD, B-747-200 pax.
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Old 18th Jan 2022, 01:25
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I believe (from recollections of reading perhaps dodgy books a very long time ago) that when the state of Cuba was under the pre-Castro regime, the US Govt paid a normal mutually agreed annual fee for the use of the American base on Cuba. However, post-1959, Castro refused to accept the fee, which was fine by the Americans. Is this more or less true?

Also, and not really connected with this, were USAAF B-29s squadrons located on Cuba in 1944, working up to operational status prior to deployment to the North Pacific? I presume this would have been same airfield, or was it another?
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Old 18th Jan 2022, 02:04
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Correction to my post above: 3/4 miles from the runway to Cuban airspace, NOT 3 miles.

Link to accident:
https://admiralcloudberg.medium.com/...8-62ade22f26d3
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Old 18th Jan 2022, 02:24
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Originally Posted by TowerDog View Post
Correction to my post above: 3/4 miles from the runway to Cuban airspace, NOT 3 miles.

Link to accident:
https://admiralcloudberg.medium.com/...8-62ade22f26d3
Thanks for the link. Reminds me of Gibraltar approaches. "You can't go unless you've been before"

Gib Plates
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Old 18th Jan 2022, 06:53
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Originally Posted by TowerDog View Post
A DC-8 tried to approach and land into the wind but had to make tight turns downwind to base to final, then stalled
and crashed. (This is all from memory 27 years ago, but at the time the distance to Cuban airspace was only 3 NM or so, hence
the tight turns)
Final report of said accident.
https://www.baaa-acro.com/crash/cras...tanamo-bay-nas

Page 54 to 56 on the Final report describes the challenges of approach to RW10 rather well.
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Old 18th Jan 2022, 09:38
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Thanks a lot Tower Dog for the link. Fascinating to see that the 3 guys survived when one looks at the photos. Always amazed to see guys with thousands of hours forgetting that stall speed increases exponentially with bank , but fatigue played a big role here.
No need to post classified info, the article and the drawings explain enough .
Beamr also thanks for the link to accident report which indeed describes quite well the procedure and the challenge .
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Old 22nd Jan 2022, 11:18
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Originally Posted by dduxbury310 View Post
I believe (from recollections of reading perhaps dodgy books a very long time ago) that when the state of Cuba was under the pre-Castro regime, the US Govt paid a normal mutually agreed annual fee for the use of the American base on Cuba. However, post-1959, Castro refused to accept the fee, which was fine by the Americans. Is this more or less true?
I remember reading about this somewhere, many years ago. If I remember correctly it is something like $1 per year (may have been $100?), and the cheque was handed over from representative to representative at the UN in NY. It was all well-documented, and done on-time (or possibly a day or two early) so that the Cubans could never report that the money had not arrived. The fact that the Cubans had never cashed the cheque was also mentioned. So long as the US continues to pay they are entitled to continue using Gitmo.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 12:53
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I was a Gitmo qualified pilot and certified to teach the “Gitmo Arrival” I flew there many times in a C-141. As others have mentioned you could not go into Gitmo unless you were paired with another pilot who had been there before. We had a C-141 almost crash there in 1992. Ended up with a hard landing and tail scrape…he was lucky. Here is the crux of flying the “Gitmo Approach” to Rwy 10. The final approach was only 3/4 mile long. So your base leg had to be low, Think that a normal 3 degree glide path puts you 300 feet AGL at one mile. So your base leg had to be about 250 ft AGL. The field itself was on a bluff around 50 ft or so above sea level..so as your making your turn to final, you can’t really see the approach end of the runway. If you wait until you can see the runway, you’ll overshoot which opens up another can of worms….So the danger in flying this approach is rife with potential issues.
1. Your starting your turn to final without a clear view of the approach end of the runway
2. You have to make a low level banked turn to final which necessitates a very large power increase because your fully configured. This was one of the biggest issues pilots had going in there, they had no idea how much extra power was needed to maintain approach speed in a level turn, dirty.
3. The prevailing winds were usually from offshore, a right crosswind which also exasperated your lineup.
4. Task saturation and Tunnel vision. While the pilot should be concentrating on his airspeed and lineup, as he’s making a level turn to final with everything hanging out (gear, full flaps) They were eyes outside looking for the runway, which they wouldn’t see until almost lined up with it. So as they were looking outside, their airspeed would start to bleed off, and they would unconscionsly increase their bank angle sometimes to over 40 degrees, trying to line up. Setting up a high bank, low airspeed scenario.
5. If you did everything correctly and were on speed and lined up, you’d tend to be high crossing the threshold because it was not intuitive to descend during this phase. The runway was about 8400ft IIRC not terribly long..so some guys would dive her down and set up a sinkrate scenario as they were combatting the crosswind too.
6. A technique I thought was very helpful was to split duties during the approach. One pilot concentrated on airspeed control, while the other concentrated on lineup. This worked well.

As you can see, pretty demanding, especially in a older, large jet like a C-141,707 or DC-8. I flew C-17’s into Gitmo, and with a modern cockpit, HUD, and impressive short field capabilities, it was a “Piece of Cake” in that aircraft.

Last edited by Chiefttp; 6th Feb 2022 at 13:07.
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Old 6th Feb 2022, 15:50
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Old days intro movie about airliner flying into Gitmo.


Last edited by Less Hair; 6th Feb 2022 at 17:02.
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Old 7th Feb 2022, 12:34
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Originally Posted by dduxbury310 View Post

.......Also, and not really connected with this, were USAAF B-29s squadrons located on Cuba in 1944, working up to operational status prior to deployment to the North Pacific? I presume this would have been same airfield, or was it another?
dduxbury, B-29 crews (including the 509th, the B-29 atomic bomb group) did work ups at Batista field, now known as San Antonio de Los Banos, southwest of Havana, so quite a distance from Guantomino
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