National Air and Space Museum Exhibition Examines the Development of Latino Aviation

Press Release
Tuesday July 28, 1998
Media Only:
Claire Brown 202-633-2371
Public information: 202-633-1000

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"¡Arriba! The History of Flight in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean" opens Aug. 31 at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (Sixth Street and Independence Ave., SW). The exhibition, on display in the museum's "Hall of Air Transportation," runs through Nov. 30. It chronicles the development of aviation in a challenging environment where men and women test the products of the industry to extremes.

Featuring 35 rare photographs and eight detailed models, the exhibition takes its title from the Spanish word for "higher." Material in the show is arranged chronologically and reveals the little-known stories of the colorful individuals who gave flight to Latin America. Visitors will learn how "towering mountains, vast and impenetrable jungle reaches and ferocious weather made the development of aviation in Latin America both a necessity and a daunting challenge."

"¡Arriba!" covers topics such as early aviation pioneers, women aviators, military aviation and the development of commercial aviation, and celebrates Latin America's courageous aviation heroes.


  • Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian who designed, built and tested more than 20 aerial craft including balloons, airships, biplanes and monoplanes.
  • Jorge Chavez, a Peruvian pilot, who made the first aerial crossing of the Alps between Switzerland and Italy.
  • Aida D'Acosta, a Cuban-American, who became the first woman of Latin American descent to solo an airship in 1903, when she flew Santos-Dumont's Dirigible No. 9.
  • Emma Catalina Encinas, a dance school owner from Mexico, who became the first licensed female pilot in the country. Encinas soloed at Mexico City on Nov. 20, 1932, before a crowd of 4,000.
  • Sonora, the Glenn Martin pusher biplane that was piloted by Capt. Gustavo Salinas. It became the first aircraft to carry out an aerial attack against a warship. The action took place at Guaymas, Mexico, on May 10, 1913.
  • SCADTA Junkers F 13, one of the first commercial airlines in Colombia. SCADTA (now known as AVIANCA) is the oldest, continuously operating airline in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Brazil's 1º Grupo de Aviação de Caça (1st Fighter Group), a Brazilian fighter group that served with distinction alongside the U.S. 350th Fighter Group during World War II. The unit flew Republic P-47D Thunderbolts into combat in Italy and earned a U.S. Presidential Unit Citation.

"¡Arriba!" provides an introduction to Latin American aviation history. The exhibit text is in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

"Until this exhibition, only isolated displays in the museum were devoted to the subject of Latin American aviation," said exhibition curator Dan Hagedorn. While it is difficult to convey the enormous breadth of aviation history in the extremes of Latin American geography and culture, "¡Arriba!" will give visitors a well-rounded look at some truly outstanding aviators and the airplanes they have flown.

The National Air and Space Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Closed December 25) Admission is free.

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Note to Editors: Photographs are available.

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