15 de diciembre de 2003

Words fly off

Por Jesús Castañón Rodríguez

Words fly off

Jesús Castañón Rodríguez

On the 17th of December the first flight will be one hundred. It took place on the Kitty Hawk beaches, in North Carolina (United States), when the Wright brothers got the Flyer I to take off.

From that date a new prospect for the world appeared, which would have numerous repercussions and, between others, cultural ones.

Aviation in Spain

In Spain, creation-literature about aviation is on top form in the first half of the 20th century and it can be organized into two stages.
Firstly, from 1912 to 1925, it is a period to emphasize the fascination for riding the sky, for the wings of liberty, for a new perspective which observe the world with . It’s time for the European flights with the expedition Madrid-Paris in 1912 in charge of Verdines, one of the first flight-proof by aeroplane in 1915 and the process which ends with the invention of autogiro, by Juan de la Cierva between 1919 and 1924.

And secondly, from 1926 to 1933, we can talk about the epic poetry of the outstanding feats in a no end of international expeditions. It’s time for the journeys Huelva- Buenos Aires by the Plus Ultra, Spain- Philippines with the pilots Gallarza and Lóriga and Spain- Guinea with the Atlántida patrol, all of them carried out in 1926. And also it is time for travelling around several American Republics, like the pilots Jiménez and Iglesias in 1929 by the Jesús del Gran Poder (1), time for planning to go round the world, like Ramón Franco by the Numancia and also for trying the crossing Spain- New York, like Ramón Franco, Gallarza, Ruiz de Alda and Madariaga by the Domier 16. A crossing which Lindbherg would get successfully afterwards. And in 1933, the expedition of Barberán and Collar around Central America takes place.

This golden age of the raids understood as a winged version of the Hispanic ideal is completed by the first flight without engine in 1943. However, the generalized usage of aviation as far as tasks regarding to total destruction raids are concerned put an end to the dream of contemplating the sky.

The literary output includes poetry, essay and journalistic marginal notes, the first one having special renown.


Poetry has predilection for the flight of the aeroplane, and aviation becomes an avant-garde symbol of the new times. Its output is focused between 1915 and 1930, from Unamuno to the literary avant-gardes.

Thus, in 1915 Miguel de Unamuno’s output «Al aeroplane» is registered. It’s followed by the avant-garde movement from the magazine of Madrid Cervantes by Ángel Espinosa and his «Aeroplanos» and Juan Larrea with «Cosmopolitano» and, after, the magazine of Seville named Grecia in 1919 and 1920 by José María Romero in «Canción del aeroplano», Guillemo Torre with «Madrigal aéreo» and «Aviograma» and Rafael Lasso de la Vega with «Aviones».

To this task general information journalism is added with La Tarde de Lorca in 1926 thanks to Heliodoro Puche and his poem «Cruza un aeroplano» and also, the writers Fernando de Lapi with «Excelsior» and Antonio de Obregón with «Alas».


Essay focuses on feat of the flight of the Plus Ultra from Spain to South America as far as a combination of technical competence and heroic effort is concerned.

In 1926 with «Discurso del Plus Ultra», Francisco Maldonado de Guevara considered the heroic deed of aviation as a new way of the Hispanic ideal and of the triumph of the humanist school which consisted of the science advances, and above all aeronautics. He presented the atmosphere of paroxysm, collective emotion, mystic mystery as a continuation of the discoveries of Gama and Cabral, Magallanes, Colón and Elcano. And he understood the aeronautical labour as a way of getting in touch with the different countries to form new ideas and feelings together.

José Gomá Orduña in «El vuelo del ‘Plus Ultra’ España- Argentina» shows the historical dimension of this expedition. On the one hand he does that because it meant the use of aviation as a feat weapon. On the other hand it was important because it symbolized the modernity of Spain to the extent of raising the morality of the country, after the 1898 crisis, when it was rediscovered by means of a sacrifice which was able to contribute to the mankind progress.

This essay is completed by several pieces of information. Firstly, how Mariano Barberán was thought to be instead of Ruiz de Alda. How the records of the journey Portugal- Brazil and the United States- Ireland were taken into account. How the preparations were carried out in Pisa, Los Alcázares (Murcia) and Melilla. And also it offers a complete information about the functions in Madrid, Seville and La Rábida when the expedition set off together with a meticulous narration about what happened in all the stages of flight: Palos-Las Palmas, Las Palmas-Porto Praia, Porto Praia-Nonronha, Noroña-Recife, Recife-Río de Janeiro, Río de Janeiro- Montevideo and Montevideo- Buenos Aires.

This heroic deed is completed by means of a description of the experienced atmosphere by the Latin-American villages with emotion, tears, flowers, kisses, parties, presents and love affairs of a crowd filled with enthusiasm.

Journalistic marginal notes

César González Ruano and Santiago de la Cruz still follow in «La hazaña del Dornier 16» the evolutions of this new expedition between the 21st of June and the 4th of July, 1929, which tried to break the length and distance records of the hydroplanes known to date.

They talk about the effort of the airmen Ramón Franco, Gallarza, Ruiz de Alda and Madariaga in their eagerness to go to the United States from Spain and go back after ten days with the following stages: Los Alcázares-Azores, Azores-Halifax, Halifax-New York, New York-Washington, Washington-Terranova and Terranova-Galicia. They tell all these events for the newspaper El Heraldo de Madrid. However, the seaplane didn’t arrive at its destination and uncertainty days together with popular dejection appeared till the English aircraft carrier named Eagle found it and till the crew, who were moved on Gibraltar, were rescued. The story of this period was completed by interviewing Nicolás Franco, commands of the base of Los Alcázares, Juan de la Cierva (the one who invented the autogiro) and Rada (the fitter of the Plus Ultra).


Spanish literature about aviation has focused on the lyrical poetry of a new view of the world and on the epic poetry of the transoceanic heroic deeds, together with the constant amusement of the Plus Ultra expedition.

In 2003, we can state that flights have been in the sky for a hundred years.


(1) Jesus of the Great Power (name given to the plane).

Bibliographical references

CASTAÑON RODRÍGUEZ, Jesús: «El entusiasmo del relato deportivo», Idioma y deporte número 41, Valladolid, 15 de junio de 2003.
ESPINOSA, Ángel: «Aeroplanos», en Cervantes. Madrid: 1919, págs. 16-17.
GOMÁ ORDUÑA, José: El vuelo del «Plus Ultra» España-Argentina. Palma de Mallorca: Seminarios de formación de FET y de las JONS de Baleares, 1951.
GONZÁLEZ-RUANO, César-CRUZ, Santiago de la: La hazaña del Dornier 16. Madrid: Imprenta Palomeque, 1929.
LAPI, Fernando de: «Excelsior», Suma poética. Madrid: 1925, pág. 157.
LARREA, Juan: «Cosmopolitano», en Cervantes. Madrid: 1919, págs. 22-28.
LASSO DE LA VEGA, Rafael: «Aviones», en Grecia número 44. Sevilla: 1920.
MALDONADO DE GUEVARA, Francisco: Discurso del Plus Ultra. Salamanca: Imprenta y Librería de F. Núñez, 1926.
OBREGÓN, Antonio de, 1930, «Alas», El campo. La ciudad. El cielo, Madrid, pág. 93.
PUCHE, Heliodoro: «Cruza un aeroplano», en La Tarde de Lorca. Lorca: 21 de noviembre de 1926.
ROMERO, José María: «Canción del aeroplano», en Grecia número 14. Sevilla: 1919, págs. 10-11.
TORRE, Guillermo de la: «Madrigal aéreo», en Grecia número 25. Sevilla: 1919.
– «Aviograma», en Grecia número 41, Sevilla: 1920.
UNAMUNO, Miguel de: (1915) «Al aeroplano», en Obras completas, XV., Madrid: Aguilar, pág. 382.