The Pan-American Confraternity Flight
NAVY ENSIGN OSCAR RIVERY ORTIZ STARRED IN THIS INITIATIVE, IN WHICH ALL COUNTRIES IN THE AMERICAS WERE VISITED IN NEARLY FOUR MONTHS
After the feat performed by Antonio Menendez Pelaez on his Camagüey-Seville flight, the following year he was summoned to take part in the Pro-Faro de Colón flight, which was the result of collaboration between Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Its objective was to gather continental support for the construction of a monument to Christopher Columbus, eventually built in Santo Domingo.
The initiative would count on a Dominican airplane baptized with the name of Columbus and three Cuban planes called La Niña, La Pinta and Santa María, under the command of Menéndez Peláez.
After traveling most of South America, the Cuban squad found itself involved in a catastrophe near Cali, Colombia, where the three aircrafts crashed and the entire crew perished.
A NEW FLIGHT
Back in the day, navy ensign Oscar Rivery Ortiz, who was a prestigious professor at the School of Military Aviation of Cuba, who had authored books on air navigation and was deputy director of the National Observatory, was in the process of preparing a flight throughout the American nations with a view to meet a number of scientific objectives. This project picked up steam only to become a follow-up to the ill-fated Pro-Faro de Colon flight, in tribute to his fellow Cuban Naval airmen and servicemen killed in the disaster.
Before starting the flight, former president of the Republic of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista, briefed Rivery Ortiz to carry a personal message to all the presidents of the Americas with a call to the Pan-American confraternity. It was 1940 and the world had engaged in a war of global outreach and in which the American nations could not feel alien to.
The flight took off on October 12, 1940, aboard a Howard DGA-8 aircraft named Lieutenant Menéndez and tagged with number 54 of the Naval Aviation of Cuba. Oscar Rivery Ortiz, the flight commander, flew with navigator Juan de Dios Rios Montenegro as pilot, and Francisco Medina Perez –his brother Roberto Medina had died in the Pro-Faro de Colón tragedy- as a mechanic.
The route stretched out for roughly four months and 60 legs. All countries in the Americas were visited and the crew was greeted by the presidents of 22 nations and the governors of Guyana and Puerto Rico. All in all, the aircraft covered a grand total of almost 19,000 miles.
The objectives of the flight were met. Rivery Ortiz carried out important scientific studies on air navigation and the region's weather conditions wherever he flew over. They were received and honored by scientific institutions. In addition, they put Cuban Aviation on a pedestal as the flight was considered a genuine feat.