Little known facts about mexican aviation
Mexicans love to fly. Just think about how fervently the Mexica honored the eagle warriors, or the Papantla flying men circling in the air steeped in mysticism.
And when it comes to aviation, Mexico has done its share. There are stories of madmen, courageous individuals and visionaries who have taken to the Mexican skies and are well worth knowing about.
Starting in colonial times, there were attempts to put Mexicans in the air. In 1784, for instance, José María Alfaro made an aerostat flight between the cities of Xalapa and Coatepec, in the state of Veracruz.
And on July 27, 1862, a flight was made in a hotair balloon by Joaquín de la Cantolla y Rico, who built his own balloons, among them Moctezuma I, Moctezuma II and Vulcano. He is also responsible for the tissue paper balloons that are still often flown at fairs.
The first motorized flight, however, took place on January 8, 1910. Alberto Braniff flew the Volssin airplane, which took off from the fields in Balbuena, very close to where the Benito Juárez International Airport is today.
Mexico was also the first country to put a head of state in the air. That was President Francisco I Madero, when pilot George Dyot invited him to fly over the city in a Deperdussin monoplane on November 30, 1911. The flight lasted some 12 minutes.
During the Revolution, airplanes were used for the purpose of war. They helped with reconnaissance, connections and even bombings during battles. The first airplane the revolutionaries used was Sonora, at the service of Álvaro Obregón’s troops.
Aviation was so important in Mexico that Venustiano Carranza tried to create an aeronautical industry. In 1915, he founded the Military Aviation School and the National Construction Workshops, where national technology was used to build planes.
In fact, a 100% Mexican propeller was produced. Named "Anáhuac", it was created by Alberto Leopoldo Salinas, Francisco Santarini and Juan Guillermo Villasana. The golden age of Mexican aeronautics was 1915 - 1920, when it competed with the world’s best.
The first Mexican airplane to fly commercially was a Lincoln Standart. On August 30, 1921, it flew from the Condesa Racetrack, in Mexico City, to Tampico. Besides sacks of mail, it transported the first domestic passenger: Humberto Jiménez.
The stellar time for Mexican aviation was during the Second World War, when the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force, the famous Squadron 201, was sent to fight in the Pacific.
Given the importance of aviation in Mexico, Manuel Ávila Camacho, president at the time, proclaimed October 23 National Aviation Day in Mexico. Go out and give your favorite pilot a hug! He surely has loads of anecdotes to tell about what goes on in the Mexican skies
Cover photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Start photo: SHUTTERSTOCK