|Francisco Sarabias "Conquistador del Cielo," a long-distance Gee-Bee airplane.|
|Air Stamp of Sarabia
Item brings Protests in Mexico and High Price In Sales Here
By Kent B. Styles
The most discussed stamp of the past week is Mexicos 20 centavos item which was used to prepay postage on mail carried by Francisco Sarabia, Mexicos ace civilian pilot, on his flight from Mexico City to New York on Wednesday as part of the ceremonies opening his countrys exhibit at the Worlds Fair. In Mexico its issuance engendered controversy and bitterness because the postal authorities limited the supply to 2,100 copies, did not put the stamp on sale at postoffices generally and presented nearly half of the stock to Sarabia to sell at any prices he elected. In New York, some leading dealers in air-mail paper refused to handle the item, but one department stores stamp section succeeded in getting hold of nearly a hundred copies from various sources and sold most of them to eager collectors at $29.50 apiece prior to the flight.
The stamp is in the design of Mexicos recent 20c green air-mail adhesive commemorating participation in the Worlds Fair. The newcomer, however, is blue and red, and in the upper right corner is "Sarabia Vuelo Mexico-Nueva York" in scarlet. This inscription was engraved and accordingly is not an overprint of a kind readily to be forged. The stamp was authorized by the Mexican Government, and the covers carried by Sarabia were duly canceled at the Mexico City postoffice. In view of the circumstances under which the stamp was issued and sold, however, the publishers of the Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue have reserved decision as to whether they will "recognize" it for chronicling the 1940 edition.
Helped Finance Flight
According to the Mexican Philatelic Association, the stamp was issued at the request of Sarabia to commemorate his flight. He had asked that 1,200 copies be prepared and that 1,000 of these be turned over to him, but President Cardenas of Mexico decided on 2,100. Sarabia received 1,000 mint copies and was reported to have sold all but fifty-three in Mexico for $100 each, thus helping to finance his good-will flight in the plane El Conquistador de Cielo (The Conqueror of the Sky). The Mexican Government reserved 400 copies for the Universal Postal Union at Berne, Switzerland, in the customary manner. Of the remaining 700 copies 300 were sent to Mexicos Philatelic Agency for sales at a price yet to be determined, and the public was permitted to purchase 400 through the Mexican National Lottery, and these were used by the purchasers on the covers carried by Sarabia.
In an interview after his arrival in New York, Sarabia denied he had sold most of his 1,000 mint copies in Mexico for $100 each. He said he had sold 200 at prices ranging between $30 and $40 apiece and planned to dispose of the others at about the same prices.
Sarabias load of mail comprised 400 covers mailed at the Mexico City postoffice. These were back-stamped at the New York postoffice and sent to their destinations in the United States. Some of the covers were registered and bore forty centavos worth of postage in addition to the 20c commemorative. Each cover carried a cachet applied at the Mexico City postoffice and illustrating a Mexican Government building and New Yorks Statue of Liberty.
A Block for Roosevelt
A block of four of the commemoratives will be presented by Sarabia to President Roosevelt for the latters collection. The block is affixed to an autographed scroll on which is inscribed: "With the sincerest admiration for you as a noted statesman who has rendered distinguished service in the present era, I have the honor of dedicating to you this souvenir of my good-will flight from Mexico City to New York."
A cartoon taken from a United States newspaper depicting Francisco "Pancho" Sarabia of Mexico, late 1930s. On May 25, 1939 Sarabia flew from Mexico City to New York City in record time. He carried goodwill letters from the Mexican government to the Francisco "Pancho" Sarabia of Mexico government. On June 7, 1939, on his return trip, he crashed into the Potomac River and was killed.
FRANCISCO SARABIA Y EL CONQUISTADOR DEL CIELO
Francisco Sarabia, oriundo de Ciudad Lerdo Durango, fundador de la empresa Transportes Aéroeos de Chiapas, abrió los caminos del aire en los Estados de Tabasco, Chiapas, Yucatán y en Quintana Roo. Un genuino pionero de la aviación comercial mexicana.
El mundo se conmocionó con la tragedia de los pilotos militares españoles Mariano Barberán y Joaquín Collar, quienes desde Sevilla, el 10 de junio de 1933 intentaron llegar a la ciudad de México. Con su sesquiplano Breguet Grand Raid, tras recorrer 7,320 kílometros sobre el Atlántico, llegaron a la ciudad de Camagüey, Cuba, donde aterrizaron el 11 de junio. De ahí, el 21 de junio, volaron a la ciudad de México, pero su avión, el Cuatros Vientos se perdió en la sierra oaxaqueña.
Entre los pilotos mexicanos surgió entonces la idea de realizar --en correspondencia al valor y al sacrificio de los pilotos españoles-- el viaje a la inversa: México-La Habana-Sevilla, pero con un aparato construído en Mèxico. Este avión (MTW-1) fue bautizado con el nombre de los desaparecidos Barberán y Collar. El piloto escogido para manejarlo en el gran vuelo fue Francisco Sarabia.
Así surgió en la historia de la aeronáutica mexicana este aviador originario de Ciudad Lerdo, Dgo., quien era fundador y administrador de la Compañía Aeronáutica del Sur, especializada en el transporte de carga a las zonas chicleras de Tabasco, Campeche, Chiapas, Yucatán y Quintana Roo.
Sarabia debió efectuar el vuelo a Sevilla hacia fines de 1934 pero tras dos vuelos de prueba del aparato sobre el valle de México fue suspendido el viaje.
Sin embargo, Sarabia no se resignó a la rutina de su compañía, sustentando la tesis de que la aviacíon comercial requería de la apertura de nuevas rutas, con aeronaves cada vez más potentes y adecuadas. Decidió adquirir un avión Gee-Bee al que bautizó posteriormente con el nomber de Conquistador del Cielo, en Burbank, Cal. Hacia fines de 1938.
En ese año, Sarabia superó todas las marcas de velocidad a volar de Los Angeles a la ciudad de México. A principios del año 1939, Sarabia lograba la misma proeza en todad las rutas abiertas: México-Chetumal, México-Mérida y México, Guatemala.
Ante la escasez de pilotos expertos que padeciera su compañía de transporte aéreo, fundó en México una escuela para aviadores y mecánicos de aviación, de la que egresaron los ameritados Carlos León, Miguel Torruco, Raúl Reyes Estrada y José Antonio Saavedra.
La oportunidad que le ofreció a Sarabia la Feria de Nueva York, lo llevó a intentar la recuperación para México de la marca de velocidad sobre esa ruta. Y así, el 24 de mayo de 1939, exactamente a last 6:52 horas, El Conquistador del Cielo se deslizó sobre una pista improvisada del campo de Balbuena, ante observadores de la Federación Aeronáutica Internacional y la AsociaciónNacional del Aeronáutica, que registraron el vuelo.
Sarabia y su Conquistador llegaron a Nueva York, al campo Floyd Bennett, a las 18:40 horas.
El propósito de Sarabia, de romper la marca de velocidad, había sido logrado. Hizo el recorrido México-Nueva York en 10 horas y 47 minutos.
A su regreso, momentos después de despegar del aeropuerto de Washington, el Conquistador del Cielo se desplomó en las riberas del río Potomac.
La trágica muerte de Francisco Sarabia marcó el punto final al período de las ágilas mexicanas, que surcaron el cielo en todas derecciones para abrir las tutas de la aviación comercial.
SETS RECORD FROM MEXICO CITY
FUEL ALMOST EXHAUSTED
Only Gallon Left as He Lands at Floyd Bennett Field in First Success of Plane
Racing against two added starters-darkness and a fast disappearing fuel supply-in an attempt to set a new non-stop record between Mexico City and New York, Francisco Sarabia, foremost Mexican aviator, was a complete winner when he set his stubby racing plane down at Floyd Bennett Field at 6:40 P.M. yesterday to establish a new time record of 10 hours and 48 minutes for the 2,350-mile hop.
The margin of victory over the old record of 14 hours and 19 minutes, set on May 8, 1935, by the late Amelia Earhart, was ample, but the margin over the fuel supply was exactly one gallon and darkness was not very far away.
The finish was perhaps as dramatic as any ever witnessed at the Brooklyn airport. Many friends and relatives and countrymen of the flier as well as several hundred other persons had been waiting at the field for some time.
Most of them realized that when Mr. Sarabia lifted his Gee Bee special, named both Q.E.D. and Conquistador del Cielo, from the airport at Mexico City at 7:52 A.M. (D.S.T.) yesterday morning he had just enough fuel for eleven hours of flying. They realized, too, that the plane which was built in Springfield, Mass., by the Granville Brothers Company, for racing purposes, had yet to give meaning to its original name-Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum, which was to be demonstrated, the mathematical symbol to indicate that a given problem had been solved.)
It had been entered in the MacRobertson Race from London to Melbourne, and had been forced down without finishing. It had been entered in the Bendix transcontinental race twice and had not finished in any. Although it had never crashed, it had usually developed some minor trouble and been forced to drop out of the competition.
Mrs. Sarabia and three of her children, Maria, 11 years old; Francisco Jr., 10, and Beatrice, 9, four of the fliers sisters-in-law and one sister; the Mexican Ambassador, Dr. Francisco Castillo Najera; the consul general, Rafael De La Colina and several score Mexicans who waited knew all those things.
At first there was a report that the craft had been sighted over Virginia, no definite spot being given. As time passed and no other word was received most of the compatriots of the flier and the several hundred other persons at the field did rapid mental calculations.
Shortly before 6:40 P.M. several reporters went to Mrs. Sarabia and her sisters, seated in an automobile on the apron of the airport, to tell her that the craft had been forced down, safely, near Atlanta, Ga. As the reporters told Mrs. Sarabia she listened attentively, but without change of facial expression, thanked them and turned to her sisters.
Thirty seconds later there was the whine and then the roar as the plane shot over the finish line. It had sneaked in without being seen.
The plane came in with the wind, circled the field and started to land. Aviators and seasoned aviation observers held their breath as the plane came down with the wind on its tail, a dangerous manoeuvre. But the craft settled to the ground without a bounce.
He climbed from he cockpit and greeted his family and friends.
"Im very glad to be here," he said. "It was one of the toughest flights Ive ever made. I had headwinds of about fifty miles an hour all the way and I went through two thunderstorms. I flew at about 16,000 feet."
The plane, which is powered by a 650-Horsepower Pratt & Whitney Hornet, took off from Mexico with 525 gallons of gasoline an about thirty-five gallons of oil, he said, and because of headwinds he had used more fuel than he anticipated.
Mr. Sarabia was taken from the airport to the Hotel Lexington with a police escort.
He carried letters to President Roosevelt, to Mayor La Guardia and Grover A. Whalen. He will take part in the dedication of the Mexican Pavilion at the Worlds Fair.
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