Four Winds: a feat of aeronautics
Por Gabriela Santiesteban
The cities of Seville and Camagüey, in Spain and Cuba, respectively, witnessed a feat of world aeronautics in 1933, being linked by a non-stop flight over the Atlantic Ocean, carried out in the historic Cuatro Vientos (Four Winds) aircraft.
The protagonists of the event, quite a feat at that time, were the engineer captain Mariano Barberán, a military pilot, and the cavalry lieutenant Joaquín Collar, a flight teacher and also military pilot. The plane, a single-engine Breguet XIX Super Bidón, costing 80,000 pesetas,specially prepared for the trip, left Seville on June 8, 1933.
On the 11th, after 40 hours in the air and 7,320 kilometers traveled without stopover, it touched Cuban land. They arrived in Camagüey, but before they had flown over the towns of Guantánamo, Victoria de las Tunas and Florida at about 1,200 meters of altitude.
In Camagüey, Barberán and Collar received the first tribute for the extraordinary feat and left for Havana, where more than 10,000 people were waiting for the Cuatro Vientos in the military city of Columbia. As part of their plan, on June 20 they flew to the capital of Mexico, but never got there.
The Cuatro Vientos and its two crew members were last sighted near the city of Villahermosa, in Tabasco. The search for the plane lasted several days but never found. Multiple stories were woven around its loss. However, legend or reality, the flight of the Cuatro Vientos was one of the great feats of Spanish aviation and remains among the greatest aerial achievements of all time.
Three years later, on January 12, lieutenant of the Cuban Navy, Antonio Menéndez Peláez left the city of Camagüey with the aim of remembering, with his arrival at the Seville airport of Tablada, the pilots Barberán and Collar, and the historic crossing of their plane.
Menéndez Peláez crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the opposite direction in a Lockheed Sirius 8ª monoplane named September 4th. It was the first plane with the colors of the Cuban flag on its rudder, that landed in Venezuela, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and Gambia. Covering 14,454 kilometers in 72 hours, he returned with a gesture of solidarity the visit of his Spanish comrades.