Total Persons on Board:
- Major Camilo Cienfuegos
- Felix Rodriguez, a Cuban soldier
- Luciano Fariñas Rodriguez, pilot
October 28th, 1959
Cold temperatures, poor visibility and weather
From Camagüey to Havana, Cuba.
Area Believed Crashed:
Between Camaguey and Havana - likely in water
Reason for flight:
A twin-engine, six-seat Cessna 310 plane, numbered "FAR-53"
Fidel Castro, one day into the search, took personal charge of the search effort, leading for his personal plane, the "Sierra Maestra".
Cuban Air Force and civilian planes searched the rolling cattle country until dark without finding a trace of the missing plane, and resumed at dawn. Night flights have been banned over Cuba since anti-Castro exiles began dropping arms at night from small planes
On October 30th, an amateur radio operator at Placetas, in the Las Villas Province of Cuba, reported he had received word wreckage of a plane had been seen on the north coast of Camaguey., but nothing came of the report.
Radio Reloj said a Cuban Airlines plane taking part in the search
sighted two small planes on the ground at Cayo Anguila, a key in the Atlantic about 60 miles north of the port city of Caibarien. The the Cuban Air Force said later one of its search pilots reported two planes at Cayo Anguila apparently had been destroyed some time ago and that neither was Cienfuegos' plane.
On November 7th, the U.S. Air Force even searched the Florida Everglades for the missing plane, based on a freighter's report of
sighting the plane 50 miles north of Cuba.
Controversy, Theories, and other Trivia:
The plane sent a routine radio report to headquarters an hour after taking off from Camaguey at 6 p.m. Nothing further was
Rumors concerning Cienfuegos's disappearance have been rife. Some have speculated that Cienfuegos was killed on the orders of Fidel Castro; others believed Raúl Castro had murdered the more popular revolutionary in a fit of jealousy. These rumors have been difficult to uphold, however, as Cienfuegos had appeared exceptionally loyal to Castro throughout his involvement, and had vigorously supported the arrest of Matos only days earlier.
Che Guevara, who was also close to Cienfuegos (naming his son Camilo after the fallen revolutionary), dismissed any rumors of Castro's involvement. Another rumor circulating was that a Cuban air force fighter plane shot Cienfuegos down mistaking his plane for a hostile intruder.
Historians seem to agree that Camilo's death is more likely to have been an accident, and not the result of foul play.
On November 9th, Juan Vieras, who flew for the Francisco Sugar Co., part owner of the King Ranch in central Cuba, and had given some flying instruction to the pilot of Cienfuegos' plane, was arrested.
Cienfuegos is honored on coins, stamps, and currency (pictured here on the Cuban 20 peso note), and Cuban school children toss flowers in the waters on the anniversary of his disappearance. His likeness appears on numerous monuments throughout Cuba.
Despite rumors of possible deflection - no trace of Cienfuegos, his crew, or his plane - have ever been found.