The 1960s turboprop called Aero Martí, part of the longtime effort to combat communism in Cuba, is one of a group of several aircraft that have cost taxpayers at least $32 million since they first started flying in 2006, according to the Washington Post. It was outfitted to fly over the ocean and broadcast an American-run TV station in Cuba.
Despite jammed signals, little audience and a series of federal spending cuts, the planes kept flying, or were stored in hangers when across-the-board "sequestration" cuts eliminated funding for pilots and fuel.
Fast forward to 2012. The Office of Cuba Broadcasting asked Congress to eliminate the plane—originally planned to broadcast uncensored news and commentary on a TV station named after Cuban patriot José Martí—at a savings of about $2 million a year, according to the Washington Post.
But Aero Martí still sits in a Cartersville hanger, costing taxpayers $6,600 a month or $79,500 a year in storage fees. Phoenix Air Group, the Cartersville-based air carrier, holds the now "no-fly" federal contract.
The plane can fly, but doesn't per government orders, in what Washington Post writer David A. Fahrenthold called "a monument to the limits of American austerity."
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