The Seville-Camagüey Flight
IN 1932, TWO SPANISH PILOTS NAMED BARBERÁN AND COLLAR PLANNED TO FLY ACROSS THE POND OVER THE WIDEST ZONE, ABOARD THE CUATRO VIENTOS (FOUR WINDS), FROM SPAIN TO CUBA
In the late 1920s, Spanish aviation stood out for the deeds performed by their long-haul pilots: the flight made by Ramón Franco on the Plus Ultra; the one on La Rábida to Buenos Aires, followed in 1929 by the Jesús del Gran Poder, piloted by Jiménez and Iglesias, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Tablada a Recife, Brazil, and then flew on to Havana, after touching down in several Latin American countries.
That same decade witnessed the feat conducted by American pilot Lindberg who traveled from New York to Paris, and the one done by France's Costes, who made the same flight on the way back.
In 1932, two Spaniards planned on flying across the pond again, this time around from their country to Cuba in a bid to perform the longest flight ever over the widest zone of the ocean. Mariano Barberan y Tros de Ilarduya, who was the principal of the Escuela de Observadores de Cuatro Vientos in Madrid; and Joaquín Collar Serra, a pilot and a professor with the Escuela de Cazas de Alcalá de Henares, started the preps to make their dream come true, a dream that also took them to Mexico City. Only Barberan had had a few flying hours under his belt during the Plus Ultra adventure.
The aircraft of choice for this trip was a Breguet XIX Super Gran Raid Nº 71, which was outfitted with an enclosed cockpit following countless test flights. That was a necessary change to be able to carry more fuel. At the same time, they made a thorough assessment of the route they had to follow and looked into the possible weather variations they could hit upon. On the Cuban part, Barberán and Collar relied on the cooperation provided by Jesuit priest Gutiérrez Lanza, chief of the Observatorio del Colegio de Belén; and ensign Oscar Rivery Ortiz, head of the Observatorio del Cuerpo de Aviación del Ejército, who kept on forwarding weather reports on the Caribbean region on a regular basis.
Finally, Barberán and Collar headed out of the Getafe Airport in Madrid to Seville, where they would make the great leap. At 4:35 pm on June 10, they took off northbound and steered on the right direction a few minutes later.
Nearly five hours later, they were flying over Madeira Islands. The layer of clouds only let them make out the summit of the Funchal Peak. From that point onward, they started flying over the ocean. Barberan was tasked with systematically checking all flight calculations, the geographical position and the use of the sextant with the help of the sun, the moon and the stars. As Collar fell suddenly airsick, Barberan also took the helm of the Cuatro Vientos for a long while. 33 hours later, they began to make out the Bay of Samana. After flying past the Dominican Republic and Haiti, all they had to do was cross the Windward Passage and land on the largest Caribbean island.
MARIANO BARBERÁN Y
TROS DE ILARDUYA