Spring Lake parent first pilot to fly commercial flight into Cuba

Delta Airlines Capt. William Hoffman hoists the American flag upon landing in Cuba.  Hoffman, a Spring Lake parent, became the 1st American pilot to fly commercially into Cuba after reparations had been finalized earlier this year.

Delta Airlines Capt. William Hoffman hoists the American flag upon landing in Cuba. Hoffman, a Spring Lake parent, became the 1st American pilot to fly commercially into Cuba after reparations had been finalized earlier this year.

by Truman Ross, Features

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Captain William Hoffman– a Delta Airlines commercial pilot, as well as a Spring Lake parent, was the first Delta pilot to fly into Cuba since the reparations allowed international tourism between Cuba and the United States.

Last March, president Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba marked the first time in over 85 years that a sitting president has visited Cuba. The following month, Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro shook hands, marking the first meeting between a United States and Cuban head of state since the two countries broke off relations in 1961.

The reparation of relations between the United States and Cuba has opened many exciting doors for both parties. Trade and foreign relations, among others, stand out. The most exciting of these doors for the common person, however, is the ability to travel to Cuba as a tourist.

Captain Hoffman was raking the leaves in his backyard when he got the call from his supervisor, telling him that he was going to be the one to fly the plane, the first commercial flight into Cuba
“It was a little crazy that morning,” Hoffman said. “I had no idea that I was going to be the one flying, to tell you the truth.” Hoffman was instructed to wave an American flag out of the plane after they landed, a symbol of peace, power, and unity among once bitter rivals.

There was a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by pictures featuring Hoffman and his crew upon landing.

Captain Hoffman (right) poses with his crew and the Cuban flag.

“It was all around a really cool experience. I had never been part if an inaugural service into a new country.” Hoffman said. “There were a lot of unknowns, you know? Runway conditions, terminals, and infrastructure. If they (Cuba) want to sustain a tourism industry, the key will be infrastructure.”

There is no taxi system, no quality hotels, and if someone wants to travel to Cuba from America, they need a specialized Visa. These Visas are only granted to those who seek to travel for educational, religious, or the visiting of relatives.

In essence, the ability to travel to Cuba is a gateway that has been opened, but only for trial use. Only time will tell how the newfound relations will pan out, but Captain Hoffman is optimistic that his first flight to Cuba will not be his last. Hoffman is the father of Spring Lake sophomore Cole Hoffman.

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