Captain Emilio Carranza Rodríguez (December 9, 1905 – July 12, 1928) was a noted Mexican aviator and national hero, nicknamed the "Lindbergh of Mexico". He was killed while returning from a historic goodwill flight from Mexico City to the United States.
Born in Villa Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila on December 9, 1905. He was the great-nephew of President Venustiano Carranza of Mexico and his elder second cousin was Mexican aviator Alberto Salinas Carranza, whom he called "uncle." At age 18, he took part against the Yaqui rebellion in Sonora and helped to put down the de la Huerta rebellion. While in Sonora, he crashed and his face had to be reassembled with platinum screws. At age 22, on May 24–25, 1928, he set the record for the third longest non-stop solo flight by flying 1,875 miles (3000 km) from San Diego, California to Mexico City in 18.5 h. His safe arrival completed the longest non-stop flight by a Mexican.
In 1928, he became a national hero when he was selected to undertake a goodwill flight from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. in response to the previous year's flight between the two capitals by Charles Lindbergh. Flying his plane The Mexico Excelsior, a Ryan Brougham similar to the Spirit of St. Louis, Carranza reached Washington, D.C on June 12, 1928, after a forced landing in Mooresville, North Carolina. At Bolling Field, he was greeted by Acting Secretary of State Robert Olds, Mexican Ambassador Miguel Tellez, other dignitaries and spectators. The next day, he had lunch with U.S. President Calvin Coolidge whom hosted the aviator at the Pan American Union. According to the New York Times, the two had to have lunch there because The White House larder was empty due to the first family's impending departure for a vacation.
Flying on to New York, Carranza landed at Roosevelt Field on Long Island and was honored in New York City by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover and New York City mayor Jimmy Walker. Mayor Jimmy Walker gave him the key to the city. He also reviewed the troops at West Point, an honor infrequently given to a visiting official with the rank of just Captain. Owing to violent weather, he was urged to remain in New York by Charles Lindbergh and others.
There is a story that on July 12 Carranza received a telegram from Mexican War Minister Joaquín Amaro ordering his immediate return to Mexico City "or the quality of your manhood will be in doubt." According to the legend, the telegram was found at the crash site in the pocket of the aviator's flight jacket, but the telegram no longer exists. The story's proponents do not cite any primary source that confirms the telegram's existence.
Contemporaneous news reports contradict the story. According to the July 13, 1928 New York Times, Carranza departed after receiving a report via telegram from the US Weather Bureau, but it is unclear whether the weather report prompted his departure. Airport officials said he announced a delay so that spectators would leave the field.
Carranza took off after dark during a break in thunderstorms in the New York region. While flying over the Pinelands of southern New Jersey amidst thunderstorms, he crashed into the woods. Investigators from Fort Monmouth conducted the accident probe to determine what happened. They were able to determine the engine throttle was closed and the spark lever was in the advanced position. This showed he was attempting to land.
John Carr, and his family were out picking huckleberries when they discovered his body and the wreckage the next day. His corpse was wrapped in canvas from the plane's fuselage and taken to a garage behind Willis Jefferson Buzby's General Store in Chatsworth where it was placed in a makeshift coffin. His casket, accompanied by United States Army officers, was draped with an American flag from Mount Holly Post 11 and taken by train to Mexico City. The flag hangs today in Mexico's School of Aviation.
Authorities initially identified Carranza's body from the Weather Bureau telegram found in his flight jacket pocket, according to news reports. Authorities described to reporters the belongings found on his body, but made no reference to a telegram from Minister Amaro. The news reports are contrary to the Amaro telegram story published on the 50th anniversary of the aviator's death, which states that the Minister's telegram was found in Carranza's jacket pocket.
Introduced June 24, 1999 by Senator Leonard T. Connors, Jr and Diane Allen Senate bill No. 2025 establishes the "Emilio Carranza Memorial Commission"; it additionally appropriates $95,000. The focus of the bill was to primarily provide for the restoration and maintenance of the Emilio Carranza memorial monument.
July 8, 2005, the memorial which was vandalized was restored. Two men were charged in connection to the monument vandalization which was spray-painted in May 2005 with "white power" and "Die all Wetbacks". There was also a swastika. The work was performed by T. Scott Kreilick, whose Pennsylvania-based conservation company have also restored headstones at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and New York City's botanical garden.
In 2007, documentary filmmaker Robert A. Emmons Jr. completed and premiered a feature-length documentary detailing the life of Emilio Carranza and the role of the American Legion Post 11 and the town of Chatsworth, NJ's involvement in his recovery and memorial.
In April 2009, J&J Video Producers of Chicago premiered their documentary film titled "FLYING WITH EMILIO". The documentary details the life of Emilio Carranza and the continued role of the American Legion Post 11 of Mount Holly, NJ's involvement in his recovery and their annual Memorial Service.
On July 11, 2015, the 87th annual Tribute was attended by Commander of the Mexican Air Force, Lt. Gen. Carlos Antonio Rodriguez-Munguia and Maj. Gen. Victor Aguirre-Serna who presented a wreath. A portrait and model of his airplane were on display during the ceremony.
A 12 ft (3.6 m) monument in the Wharton State Forest in Tabernacle Township, New Jersey marks the site of his crash . The monument, installed with funds donated by Mexican schoolchildren, depicts a falling eagle of Aztec design. Each year in July, on the Saturday nearest the anniversary of his crash (second Saturday in July) at 1:00 p.m. he is honored at the monument site by members of the American Legion Medford post 526 accompanied by an entourage from the Mexican consulates in New York City and Philadelphia.
The donated monolith was created with each side representing a symbol of Carranza and his love of aviation. The monument was funded by the children of Mexico who saved their coins to create this obelisk-looking statue. The stones for the monument were quarried from granite mined near his home and each block represented a different Mexican State.
Constructed in the form of a giant pylon, with squared tapered sided, the image of an Aztec eagle is carved on one side. On the other side, there is an arrow, pointing skyward. Another side has an inscription. It shows some deterioration and some letters in the message are missing. The message states "Messenger of Peace... The (p)eople of Mexico Hope that your high ideal(s) will be rea(l)ized... Homage of the children of Mexico to the aviator captain Emilio Carranza who died tragically on July 13, 1928 in his good will flight". In the final side, there are embedded footprints which represent the famed aviator's final walk on the planet.
- es:Jesús Carranza Neira
- "Coolidge Is Host to Mexican Flier," The New York Times (June 14, 1928)
- Emilio Carranza a los 50 años de su muerte. Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares. 1978.
- Mercedes Pujols Rosa; Leticia Roa Nixon (2011). The Mexican Lindbergh. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. pp. 29–31.
- "Carranza Hops Off Secretly for Mexico; Flies Between Storms: Due There Tonight". The New York Times. July 13, 1928.
- "Mexican Lindy Killed As Plane Falls in South Jersey Pines During Storm, ” Evening Courier, July 14, 1928 (Camden, NJ)
- "Carranza Killed In Crash As He Flies Into Storm In Mexico Hop," The New York Times, July 14, 1928
- Birdsall, Bob People of the Pines (2007), Plexus Publishing, Inc., Medford, NJ.
- Evening Courier, July 14, 1928 (Camden, NJ)
- Evening Courier, July 14, 1928
- The New York Times, July 14, 1928
- Preview of Flying With Emilio by J&J Video Productions, flyingwithemilio.com.
- Emilio Carranza Crash Monument, RoadsideAmerica.com, undated. Accessed July 24, 2008.
- Directions to the Carranza Memorial
- Biography of Emilio Carranza
- Mount Holly American Legion Post 11: Emilio Carranza Pages
- Emilio Carranza (emiliocarranza.net)
- Emilio Carranza (emiliocarranza.us)
- Early Aviators: Emilio Carranza
- Website of Documentary Filmmaker Robert A. Emmons Jr. Emmons produced the 2007 Documentary Film: "Goodwill: The Flight of Emilio Carranza"
- Free Local Screenings of "GOODWILL" in New Jersey
- Website of Documentary Film "FLYING WITH EMILIO" by J & J Video Productions
- Carranza Memorial (waymarking.com)