Delivery of the Remains of the Bleriot XI Monoplane to Peru
On March 19, 1911, at 2:00 p.m. the Instituto Histórico del Peru (Peruvian Academy of History) held a ceremony to receive the remains of Jorge Chavez’s Bleriot XI plane, the plane with which he had crossed the Alps on September 23, 1910. A large number of guests attended this ceremony.
The family of Jorge Chavez Dartnell delivered the remains of the plane to the Chairman of the Liga Peruana Pro Aviación, General of Brigade Pedro E. Muñiz, who, in turn, handed them to the Chairman of the History Institute, General Norberto Eléspuru.
The repatriation ceremony was attended by Prefect of the Department of Lima in representation of the President of the Republic; General of Brigade Pedro E. Muñiz Chair of Liga Peruana Pro Aviación; General Norberto Eléspuru Principal of the Instituto Histórico del Perú; Jorge Chavez Dartnell’s family and by representatives of different government institutions.
The committee made up by Manuel Gutiérrez de la Barrera, Víctor Arana, Alejandro Garland, José B.Goyburu, Elías Guillermo Correa Elías, Alberto Barreda y Laos, and Manuel García Calderón Romaña; a member of the institution, was appointed by the Liga Peruana Pro Aviación to be responsible for the services during the ceremony.
The following parts of the Bleriot airplane were delivered to Peru: One 50 H.P. Gnome, in good conditions, one steering wheel, one fuel tank, fours stretcher cords, one seat, one steerer with cords, one funnel, two main tyres, two pedal axes, one three-piece distribution airframe, two fuel pumps, one thick stretcher cord, two wing parts, and one exhaust tube. During this ceremony, the speaker mentioned that the propelling blade had been destroyed and that only some pieces had been recovered. With respect to the wings, he informed that one of them had been kept as a souvenir in the Domodossola Museum and that the other one remained in the Paris Museum.
The ceremony to deliver the remains was opened by Mr. Felipe Chavez Dartnell, the oldest brother of Jorge Chavez. He addressed the speech to the Chairman of the Liga Peruana Pro Aviación, Mr. Felipe Chavez, and expressed that on his behalf and on behalf of his family, he was delivering these relics to be kept in that place. The following speaker was the Chairman of Liga Peruana Pro Aviación Chairman, General of Brigade Pedro E. Muñiz. He received the parts of Chavez’s Bleriot XI and awarded Mr. Felipe Chavez an artistic Golden plate with an inscription between the wings of a plane that read: “Liga Peruana Pro Aviación to glorious airman Jorge Chavez, world record man of altitude and conqueror of the Alps - September 27, 1910”.
Immediately after, General Muñiz delivered the parts of Bleriot XI to be kept in custody by the Instituto Histórico del Peru. After this ceremony there was a musical rehearsal and at the end, journalist Luis Cisneros, son of poet Luis Benjamín Cisneros, declaimed a poem called “Elegy to Jorge Chavez”.
General of Brigade Norberto Eléspuru, Principal of the Instituto Histórico del Peru, gave the closing words. He thanked the family for the delivery of Jorge Chavez’s Bleriot Plane and closed the ceremony.
In 1957, the Ministry of Aeronautics agreed to rebuild the Bleriot plane and assigned its execution to the Air Instruction Center, which was commanded by Peruvian Air Force Major General Jesús Melgar Escutti. Thus, the parts of the Bleriot plane that had been delivered to the Instituto Histórico were taken to the Air Instruction Center for study purposes. There, they were adapted to fit the mode that they were planning to build. Technicians Javier Espejo Castro, Manuel Sánchez Ortega, Julio Florián Gallardo, Heraclio Talavera Peralta, Diego Ramos García and Guillermo Uriarte Carrillo carried out the work.
On September 19, 1957, on the anniversary of the arrival of Jorge Chavez Dartnell’s body to Peru, the sound of the 50 horse power Gnome engine of the Bleriot XI monoplane which had been rebuilt, was heard when it was turned on and tested by Peruvian Air Force Major General Jesús Melgar Escutti. Following this start up, the Bleriot was rolled on the runway, towards the runway head on the back yard of Las Palmas Air Base Square of Honor. The pilot, General Melgar, made two take off attempts, which the audience admired. At the time, the author of this book was a Second Year Cadet at the Officers School of Aviation, and witnessed this unique historic event that reproduced the scene that took place on September 23, 1910 in Brigue, Switzerland when young Peruvian aviator Jorge Chavez on board of this Bleriot XI monoplane decided to conquer the impressive Alps. The engine that we heard on the runway of Las Palmas airbase was the same one that roared that September 23, 1910 on the field in Brigue, during the climb and the crossing of the Alps, the same one which accompanied Jorge Chavez in his last flight. The 50 HP Gnome engine of Chavez’s Bleriot XI had come alive, it was working once again and its sound could be heard thanks to the work carried out by the Peruvian Air Force Maintenance Service technicians and their assistants.
After many years of permanence in the Museo Histórico del Peru, the precious relics have currently become part of the Museo Aeronáutico, located in the central building of Las Palmas Air Base. The replica of the Bleriot XI plane was placed in a pedestal beside the tomb that guards the remains of Jorge Chavez Dartnell, the distinguished Peruvian, pioneer of world and Peruvian aviation. In Las Palmas Air Base the replica is kept next to another famous plane, the North American NA-50 which stands on another pedestal by the tomb of National Hero, Peruvian Air Force Captain José Abelardo Quiñones.
- Words of Felipe Chavez, brother of the hero, during the Ceremony of the delivery of the Bleriot XI wreckage.
- Remarks by the President of the Peruvian Pro-Aviation League, Brigadier General Pedro E. Muñiz at the moment of receiving the wreckage of the Bleriot XI. (in spanish)
- Poetry by Luis Cisneros, poet and journalist during the Ceremony of the delivery of the Bleriot XI wreckage.
- Remarks by Brigadier General Norbert Eléspuru, President of the Historical Institute of Peru at the moment of receiving the wreckage of the Bleriot XI. (in spanish)
Multimedia Archive: Delivery of the Remains of the Bleriot XI Monoplane to Peru