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Matías Pérez

Who: 

Matías Pérez - an awing-maker from Portugal, and aspiring "aeronaut"

Total Persons on Board:

One

When:

June 29th, 1856

Weather:

Warm temperatures, but poor visibility and breezy winds

Flight Route:

From the Miguel Aldama residence, on the outskirts of Havana in Cuba, on a "local" flight

Area Believed Crashed:

The waters north of Havana in the Gulf of Mexico

Reason for flight:

Demonstrating his self-built craft to an admiring public

Type of Aircraft:

An Godard-designed "aerostat" hot-air balloon, named "Ville de Paris"

Search efforts: 

His balloon quickly ascended that afternoon to over 2,000 meters in height, and drifted.  The balloon was last seen at dusk, on the fort "de la Chorrera" on the north coast of Havana, headed north over the ocean.

By order of Spanish general José Gutiérrez de la Concha - the colonial head and Captain General of Cuba at the time, a meticulous search took place in all the corners of the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Havana.  No trace of the aerostat or Perez were found.

Controversy, Theories, and other Trivia: 

To this day, when someone disappears without a trace, Cubans traditionally say: "Voló como Matías Pérez" ("He flew off like Matías Pérez.")

Perez has been on on two Cuban postage stamps.

 

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