The Lindbergh of Mexico
Near Chatsworth, New Jersey
July 12th, 1928
Born to Greatness...
Born in Villa Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, Mexico, on December 9th, 1905, Emilio Carranza
Rodriguez was the great-nephew of President Venustiano Carranza of Mexico and
the nephew of famed Mexican aviator Alberto Salinas Carranza, who had founded
the Mexican Air Force school of aviation. Many of his formative years were spent
in and around aviation, on both sides of the border between the United States
At age 18, he became a national hero when he strafed Yaqui Indians in the
Mexican state of Sonora while helping to put down the de la Huerta rebellion.
But, while in Sonora, his plane crashed, and his face had to be reassembled with
the use of platinum screws. He was commissioned into the Mexican Air Force in
January of 1926 as a Lieutenant. In June of 1926, he went to the United States
to buy an airplane which he intended to use for long distance flights, acquiring
a Lincoln Standard airplane in Chicago, with a 180 horsepower Heso engine.
During his service in the Mexican Air Force, he supervised the repair of the
old wooden airplane, installed a 185 horsepower BMW engine, and named it the
“Coahuila”. On Friday, September 2nd, 1927, at 5:50 in the morning, the
"Coahuila" departed Mexico City for Ciudad Juarez, landing there at 4:48 in the
afternoon. Captain Emilio Carranza was received triumphantly. His arrival to
Ciudad Juarez coincided with Charles A. Lindbergh's and the Spirit of St. Louis
arrival at El Paso, Texas where they both celebrated together, and forged a
lifelong friendship - when Lindbergh visited Mexico City on a goodwill flight on
December 14th, 1927, Captain Emilio Carranza was Charles Lindbergh's official
companion while in the city.
An Idea Takes Flight...
Lindbergh was in Mexico, the newspaper “Excelsior” promoted the idea that the
people of Mexico should sponsor a goodwill flight from Mexico City to Washington
as a return gesture of Lindbergh's flight. Numerous sponsors stepped forward to
promote the cause of peace, goodwill and understanding between the United States
and Mexico. When Charles Lindbergh heard of the possible flight, he himself
donated $2,500 towards the effort.
A committee was formed, and they selected the Ryan B1, a near replica of the
same airplane Lindbergh had flown from New York to Paris, and Captain Emilio
Carranza, who was still serving with the Mexican Air Force, as the pilot for the
flight between Mexico City and Washington DC.
At age 22, on May 24,1928, departed from San Diego at 3:20 in the afternoon,
on a non-stop flight in his newly-manufactured Ryan plane, named the “Excelsior,”
bound for Mexico City. When he landed at 9:40 the following morning, with over
100,000 people on hand, he had set the record for the third longest non-stop
solo flight by flying 1,875 miles in 18 and a half hours.
Off I Go...
couple weeks later, at 8:08 in the morning of June 11th, 1928, Carranza took off
from Mexico City in the “Excelsior” for his nonstop flight to Washington, DC.
Encountering fog and bad weather when he crossed into the United States, he
continued as best as he could. Unfortunately, he was forced to make an emergency
landing outside of Mooresville, North Carolina, at 3:45 the following morning.
At 1:50 in the afternoon on June 12th 1928, Carranza took off from Mooresville,
NC and lands at Bolling Field in Washington, DC, at 5:15 PM.
Both countries celebrated Carrnaza's flight. He was personally congratulated by
the President of the United States Mr. Calvin Coolidge and invited to a dinner
in the White House, and he placed a wreath at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier in
Arlington Cemetery. He also announced his intention to fly non-stop from New
York City back to Mexico City.
On June 17th, he was escorted into the air from Bolling Field by a squadron
of military aircraft and was received by another military squadron as he headed
into Mitchell Field, New York. When he arrived, Mayor Jimmy Walker awarded
Carranza the key to New York City, and he was honored by Secretary of Commerce
Herbert Hoover. Luckily, Carranza's father, Sebastian Carranza, held a post with
the Mexican Consulate in the city. The young Carranza was also invited to review
the cadets at West Point – a rare honor, given his company office status.
He made plans to leave New York on July 3rd and arrive in Mexico City July
4th – except his flight lacked favorable weather conditions. Carranza was eager
to return to Mexico, but his friend Lindbergh advised him to delay.
Nevertheless, Carranza made several attempts to take off which terminated in
On the morning of July 12th, Carranza once again attempted to fly to Mexico.
After numerous airport officials, and the U.S. Weather Bureau, gave him warnings
and weather reports of a possible electrical storm, Carranza canceled his
departure once more and ordered his airplane hangared. But when he returned to
his hotel, the Waldorf-Astoria, he was met with a telegram. He went to the
telephone and called for his airplane to be made ready for his immediate
He departed from Roosevelt Field on July 12th at 7:18 in the evening – and
into the face of a severe thunderstorm. Although he was under the impression
that it would be clear as he flew southward.
No word came from the “Excelsior” or Carranza. But then, the following
afternoon, on July 13th, John Henry Carr, a mechanic from the town of
Chatsworth, New Jersey, his wife Marie Carr, and his mother, May Carr, had
stopped along the tracks of the Central Railroad of New Jersey in the Pine
Barrens of Tabernacle
Township to pick blueberries. As the Carrs worked their way along the railroad
line, they came upon several large splinters of wood. Finding additional fresh
splinters, Mr. Carr decided to leave the vicinity of the tracks to further
explore the thick underbrush.
Soon thereafter, Mr. Carr came upon a wing of an airplane and after
proceeding a short distance, he found the body of an aviator. He then spotted
the rest of the wreckage about 120 feet away, consisting of the fuselage and the
Wright Whirlwind engine. The fuselage, the engine, and the other wing had
crashed down a clearing in the thick pines.
Mr. Carr ran back through the woods, and with his family drove into town
where he telephoned the County Detective, Arthur Carabine of Mount Holly, New
Jersey. Carabine and the Deputy Coroner, John Throckmorton, immediately drove
the twenty-five miles to Chatsworth where they picked up Mr. Carr. Upon arriving
on the scene, Mr. Carabine searched the body for identification. In a pocket of
the leather aviator's jacket, he found a telegram from the Weather Bureau in
Washington addressed to Captain Carranza, and a few Mexican coins, a $100 bill,
a bag with $70 in American coins, a letter written in Spanish on stationary of
the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, a flight itinerary listing the cities over which
Captain Carranza planned to fly: Philadelphia, Washington DC, Greenville,
Spartanburg, New Orleans, Galveston, Tampico and Mexico City. In addition,
Detective Carabine found several maps and some bags used by aviators to drop
messages in flight. Captain Carranza's right hand was gripping a flashlight.
Lastly, on his person was that telegram he had received at the hotel. It was
from Mexcian General Joaquin Amaro, and it read " Sal imediatamente sin escusa
ni pretesto oh la calidad de tu hombria quedara en duda." Translated from
Spanish to English, it meant "Leave immediately without excuse or pretext, or
the quality of your manhood will be in doubt".
Members of the local American Legion, Post 11 of Mount Holly, New Jersey, cut
a path to the crash site, and assisted in the recovery of the wreckage and
Carranza's body. Upon completing his preliminary investigation of the crash
site, Detective Carabine transported Captain Carranza's body to the morgue of K.
Perenchieff and notified the Mexican Embassy via telegram.
Shortly thereafter, a group of Army officers led by Lieutenant Mee of the
Seventy Seventh Division at Camp Dix, went to Mount Holly under orders of
Lieutenant Colonel Cornelius V. Wickersham. With members of the American Legion
post of Mount Holly, the Army officers placed an American flag upon the coffin
of Captain Carranza and took post pending arrival of soldiers reported on the
way from Washington.
Homages to a
Ultimately, Captain Emilio Carranza's remains
were taken to New York City where thousands of
people paid their respect to the fallen hero.
President Coolidge offered the use of the
destroyer, USS Florida, to transport the body of
Emilio to the port of Veracruz, Mexico. The
offer was denied by the Mexican government, as
it chose to transport it by train, crossing the
border through Laredo, Texas. Several cities
requested the train to reroute through their
cities so their citizens could pay their respect
to the aviator, who was ultimately buried in
Cemetery in Mexico City.
A stone monument in Wharton State Forest
marks the quiet spot in the woods, southwest of
Chatsworth. The monument was built during the
1930s, and paid for by the
school children of Mexico. Planted around it are
several yucca plants, stunted by the New Jersey
winters. On one side is an inscription in
Spanish, on the other, English:
“Messenger of Peace. The people of Mexico
hope that your high ideal will be realized.
Homage of the children of Mexico to the aviator
Captain Emilio Carranza, who died tragically on
July 13, 1928 on his goodwill flight.”
American Legion Post 11 has maintained the memory of Captain Emilio Carranza
alive by observing through an annual memorial service at the crash site on the
anniversary of his death.