We were flying four thousand feet over the Florida Straights when Rojas suddenly called out.
"They got us!"
Slightly off our right-wing, two U.S. Air Force F-86 Saber jets from Homestead Air Force Base came sneaking up from behind us. They came alongside. One of the Saber jets pulled closer to our left-wing and signaled Rojas to drop the landing gear.
Rojas looked at the Saber pilot, grinned, and then gave the F-86 pilot the one-finger salute. Rojas turned to me.
"Maintain this heading and altitude. I'll deal with this guy".
Rojas reached into his pocket and pulled out a nice fat marijuana joint. He held it up as an offering to the Saber pilot.
The jet pilot smiled, shook his head negatively. He again motioned for Rojas to drop the landing gear. Rojas, give the F-86 pilot a proper salute, and then again the one-finger salute, but did not give me the order to lower the landing gear. We continued onward toward the Florida coast and Marathon Key.
The ADF radio needle suddenly swung around, pointing toward "Swan Island."
The code song 'Moon over Miami' played in my headphones, signaling the coast was clear to enter the AIDZ- ‘Aircraft Identification Defense Zone’. The F-86 pilot received the same coded message. He gave Rojas a thumbs up, then a friendly salute - banked hard left, turning away, disappearing into the wild blue.
As soon as they had appeared, the two Saber Jets disappeared.
The words "Moon over Miami shine on my love tonight" echoed in my headphones. The coast was now clear, and we could continue toward Marathon Key. In the distance, beyond the cotton-like clouds, I could see the faint evening lights of Marathon Key, Florida.
Rojas leaned back in his seat and fired up the joint he had offered the Saber pilot. He offered it to me. I took it and inhaled a deep drag from the sweet weed.
"You got it,” Rojas said. “Now take us home.".
I corrected our heading and set a new course for Marathon Key. Then I took another drag from the Marijuana joint. I handed the joint back to Rojas. He took a deep-deep, drag. He was sound asleep when we arrived at Marathon.
Soon, that night, we were having a couple of beers at Jack Carr’s Resort Hotel on Marathon Key. Another mission completed successfully. Tomorrow will be another day. Another mission; another memory - and another marijuana joint.