Aviation Pioneers

Emilio Carranza – The Lindbergh Of Mexico

There is no doubt that all progress requires some kind of sacrifice and many different fields of work have young and determined people shouldering the heavy burden of developing their industry and furthering its growth, regardless of the cost. With his whole life dedicated to aviation and unfortunately lost in a plane crash, Captain Emilio Carranza was and still is one of the greatest examples to this bittersweet fact.

Emilio Carranza was a pilot who is considered to be one of Mexico’s national heroes and he is a well respected figure in the aviation industry. The young aviator had a brief but successful career full of incredible achievements. He set many aviation records including the first continuous flight from Mexico City to Juarez that is 1,200 miles (almost 2,000 km) long, when he was just 21 years old.

Coming from an important family, Carranza was the great-nephew of President Venustiano Carranza, one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution and Emilio’s father, Sebastian Carranza was an attache at the Mexican consulate in New York. But unlike them Emilio was not going to follow a career path in politics. He had already set his sights on the skies and he was passionate about flying from a very early age.

Emilio Carranza, just like his elder second cousin Alberto Salinas Carranza who was an aviator, decided to experience the wonder of the skies first-hand and became a skilled aviator. Along with his short but admirable carrer as a pilot, the young Emilio also fought to safeguard the peace in his country. At the ripe age of 18, Emilio Carranza joined the fight against the Yaqui rebellion and played a part in suppressing another rebellion lead by a Mexican politician Adolfo de la Huerta.

Unfortunately, Emilio Carranza was killed in the plane crash he had when returning from a historic goodwill flight from Mexico to the United States at the tender age of 22. Although he had a short life, Emilio Carranza is regarded as a national hero of Mexico and one of the important figures in aviation history who is worthy of learning more about. So let’s commemorate this important aviator and talk about his life, career and legacy.

Background And Early Life Of Emilio Carranza

Emilio Carranza was born on the 9th of December, 1905 in Villa Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, Mexico. His father was an attache named Sebastian Carranza and his mother was Maria Dolores Rodriguez Gomez. As a child, Emilio lived in San Antonio, El Paso and Mexico City for a while and he was fluent in English.

He was their fourth child and from a very early age, he had an enthusiasm for planes and flying, a passion he shared with a second cousin of his, Alberto Salinas Carranza whom he considered his “uncle”. Emilio’s avidity for the skies was well known by the family and everyone talked about how much he loved airplanes. He had such fondness for aviation that one of his favourite pastimes when he was just 11 years old was visiting the flying school.

At 18, he took a huge step in following his passion and started attending the Military Academy at Mexico City. He graduated in 1924 with honors and officially became a pilot. His childhood dream was eventually fulfillled, now he could fly an airplane and personally experience the glory of the skies.

source: Emilio-Carranza – America Vuela

Emilio Carranza’s Career As A Pilot

Unlike many young people with fleeting interests and passions that change very quickly, Emilio Carranza knew what to do with his life from a very early age and followed his passion for aviation with courage and conviction. When Carranza’s hard work finally paid off and he became a pilot, a promising career with numerous aviation records awaited him.

By flying 1,575 miles (3,000 km) from California to Mexico City in 18.5 hours, Emilio Carranza set the record for the third longest continuous solo flight on the 25th of May, 1928, when he was just 22 years old. This flight was also the longest continuous flight done by a Mexican and Carranza was greeted by the president of Mexico at the time, Plutarco Calles. Captain Emilio Carranza was a pilot who could deal with long flights, as made obvious by another record he set when he flew from Mexico City to Juarez without stopping.

Although he was a skilled aviator with a good training, Emilio Carranza’s career was not devoid of unfortunate accidents. While figthing against the rebels in Sonora, he crashed his plane and his face had to be reassambled using platinum screws. Even though he took such a harsh injury, this did not stop Carranza from following his passion and he kept flying planes after the incident.

During Emilio Carranza’s career, the relationship between the United States and Mexico was getting strained due to many disagreements between these two prominent powers in North America and both countries needed to show some goodwill in order to fix the seemingly hopeless situation.

Inspired by the goodwill tour to Mexico City from the US capital city Washington D.C. done by an American aviator Charles Lindburgh in 1927, Carranza decided to complete a goodwill flight to United States, in order to become a positive influence on the increasing tensions between two countries and help the relations between the US and Mexico improve by returning the kind gesture.

The idea was well accepted by the public and Captain Emilio Carranza became a national hero for wanting to take on such a challenge. $25,000 was raised by the trip and even Charles Lindbergh himself contributed $1,200 for the flight.

Following some test flights in Mexico to test the plane, Carranza successfully flew to Washington D.C. on the 12th of June, 1928. He had meetings with many important figures in the United States and all in all, the goodwill flight was a success.

On July 12, he ordered the plane to be prepared for the return flight, despite bad weather conditions. Sometime after he took off, the signals from his plane completely disappeared. Sadly, the remains of the plane were found the next day and Captain Emilio Carranza was killed in the accident.

source: emilio carranza – Timothy Hughes Rare Newspapers

Emilio Carranza was posthumously promoted to general and in 1931, a monument was built in New Jersey to keep his memory alive. Every year, a ceremony is held at the Air Force Academy in Mexico City for Carranza and he is remembered as a prominent figure in the aviation history.

Resources and Further Reading Links

  • Anon. (n.d.), Emilio Carranza, Wikipedia, Retrieved 19 April 2021 < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emilio_Carranza >
  • Allen Barra (April 2015), Mexico’s Lindbergh: Emilio Carranza, HistoryNet, Retrieved 19 April 2021
  • < https://www.historynet.com/mexicos-lindbergh-emilio-carranza.htm >

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