[private] On a placid evening in the first week of June the sun had gone down beyond the western horizon leaving only the threadlike fingers of cirrostratus clouds illuminated by the failing light. It was the time of evening when manmade satellites can be seen moving rapidly across the sky as though weaving their paths between the numberless stars that crowd the firmament as darkness deepens its hold on the night. Within a half an hour the moon made her presence known by lighting up the surrounding clouds with its pale luminescent face. The hum of a small twin engine airplane was heard in the distance and not long afterwards the little plane buzzed the tree tops on the south side of the island of Guanaja.
Within minutes the heavy roar of much larger aircraft drowned out the sound of the TV sets tuned to the seven o’clock soap opera. Some of the people came out of their houses to see what was going on. It was assumed that the smaller aircraft was a drug runner and the large craft was a US Coast Guard anti-narcotics airplane. After the first two aircraft had gone past, two other machines came out of the south apparently in hot pursuit of the first two, these were the slower-flying rotary wing aircraft that are called in on these missions whenever there is a possibility that the drug trafficking aircraft may attempt a landing. On the second pass over the south side of the island I went outside and was just in time to see the smaller aircraft passing overhead. Just seconds behind it and clearly outlined against the waxing moon I saw the giant C-130 Hercules.
I was not able to recognize the silhouette of the helicopters because they passed further north, towards the mountains. All these aircraft were flying about without lights of any kind and I could not help but wonder what the results would be if a couple of them collided over the settlement on the Cay or on some other well populated area. I cannot figure why the chase aircrafts were flying with all their light turned off. It is not like they could sneak up on the bad guys and grab them. On one of those passes the small airplane passed in front of the two helicopters and from the ground it seems like it was too close for comfort. I’m almost certain that the pilot of the small plane did not see the helicopters. This procedure of flying without lights is potentially dangerous and places at high risk the lives of the crews and maybe people on the ground when they fly over populated areas.
The alleged drug-runners were flying totally blacked out to avoid detection but the other aircrafts do not have to have their lights turned off to prevent the smugglers from landing, if that was their intentions. After about a half an hour of something akin to those old air shows put on by the barnstorming pilots of years gone by, the airplanes passed going towards the east and they did not return. When the aircraft did not pass back, I assumed the smuggler’s plane had been driven off, because once they had been detected there was no use trying to land because, although the helicopters are slower, they can get to the landing zone just minutes behind the bad guys.
The next morning I was told that the trafficker’s aircraft had crashed into the ocean just off the East End of Guanaja and I thought that if it is the purpose of the US Coast Guard to drive smugglers aircrafts into the sea they should have brought in a MH-65C Dolphin Helicopter. Those babies are fast and carry airborne use of force equipment, including a M240B 7.62mm machine gun.
The day after the supposed crash the weather was not nice. It was very windy and with rough seas but there have never been so many fishermen braving the wind and the waves and trying their luck at catching something. The Honduran Coast Guard were there trying to discourage the fortune seekers, but they were not having too much luck doing so. Apparently nobody found any trace of the downed airplane or its cargo. Some of the fishermen are now saying that they don’t believe that the plane actually crashed instead they think that the mouse outfoxed the cats and got away. Who knows?