MIAMI (WSVN) - A Cuban pilot who made a daring escape from the island and arrived in the Everglades in an unusual way will be allowed to remain in the United States after he was granted political asylum.

Friday morning, Ruben Martinez Machado was celebrating with his immigration attorney before he left a facility in Pompano Beach.

“Thank you so much to everyone who supported me,” he said through a translator. “Yes, in the end, it was all worth it.”

The 29-year-old was placed in federal custody and stayed in the Pompano facility as his asylum case moved through the system.

Martinez Machado took off from Cuba in a Soviet-era crop duster in his search for freedom.

The pilot flew nearly 270 miles from Sancti Spíritus, Cuba, before he landed at the Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport in the Everglades, Oct. 21.

Martinez Machado barely had any fuel to make the flight, but he was successful in arriving.

“I was very scared, very scared to do it, always flying low, and I was looking, worried if there was someone following me that could take me down,” he said.

Martinez Machado’s release comes a day after a judge granted him asylum.

His first stop was the office of his attorney, Eduardo Soto.

While Martinez Machado is now receiving the star treatment, he was arrested in Cuba twice.

Soto said his client’s life was in danger.

“He had two incidents in particular where he was arrested and detained for at least three days on each occasion,” said Soto. “There was a detention in which he didn’t have food or water for many hours at a time.”

Martinez Machado said he was falsely accused multiple times of crimes in Cuba. He said his first arrest happened because he was falsely accused of stealing fuel.

Soto said his client’s second arrest was overtly political.

“There was an incident in which representative of the people’s government were abusing individuals, and he stood up and protested what was going on, and he was detained,” he said.

Martinez Machado flew crop dusters in Cuba to make a living. He has filed to receive his work permit and hopes to fly eventually again in the U.S.

He said he never again wants to pilot such a risky flight.

“He knew and understood that by leaving in a plane, the whole world would take notice of what’s going on in Cuba,” said Soto.

But after a nerve-racking flight and months of asylum seeking, there is something altogether different at the top of his to-do list as a free man.

“Now to drink a beer,” he said.

The pilot said he plans to head to Houston, where he has a good friend.

Martinez Machado said he is now worried for his family back in Cuba because of his high profile. He has spoken to them, and he fears for their lives.

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