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Introduction

Bleriot y firma de Jorge ChavezThe "Centenary of Jorge Chavez’s Heroic Feat" has been written to commemorate the centenary of the famous aviation feat performed on September 23rd 1910, by the distinguished aviator and engineer Jorge Chavez Dartnell. The following chapters tell the story of the short life of this brave young Peruvian, (born in France) whose courage and daring feats dazzled the whole world and brought glory to Peru at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. On September 23rd 1910, Jorge Chavez became the first man to cross the Alps in a light aircraft. His flight went down in history as a momentous achievement in the birth of the modern aviation era. He took off from Brigue, Switzerland, in a fragile Bleriot XI monoplane, made of wood, partially covered in fabric and driven by a small engine of barely 50-horse power, and landed in Domodossola, Italy. During the flight, the young aviator faced freezing temperatures and crossed mountains and deep gullies where there were no emergency landing places. He battled strong winds, which produced severe turbulence causing his fragile aircraft to shake and creak.

Those of us who have had the opportunity to fly a high performance plane over the Alps and over the Domodossola field, with proper navigation and communication equipment, a pressurized cockpit and emergency equipment provided by our current era of technological progress, can attest to the difficulty and risks involved in Chavez’s flight. This flight was attempted in a very fragile aircraft, with little engine power, and which lacked on-board instruments and a cockpit to provide the pilot with adequate protection. He did not even have a parachute to save his life in an emergency. Therefore, we must recognize the great courage and bravery shown by this young Peruvian, when he fearlessly set out to conquer the Alps. However, he paid a high price for his success, as he sacrificed his life. He died following four days of suffering and agony. All the efforts made by the doctors, with the limited resources of that time, proved useless to save the young aviator’s life.

The following chapters provide a synthesis of his biography. They evoke memories of his childhood and adolescence; tell the story of his family, his education and his desire to pursue a career in aviation. They also give an account of his achievements, the preparation for the trip across the Alps, the characteristics and modifications of his plane Bleriot XI, the attainment of the altitude record, the start of the competition, the crossing attempt, the heroic feat of crossing the Alps, the last interview given by Chavez and finally describe his suffering, death and funeral. They also mention the delivery of the remains of the Bleriot XI plane to Peru in 1911, a description of the monuments erected to the memory of Jorge Chavez and the repatriation of his remains in 1957.

This interactive research work contains broad information, over 300 pictures, videos, audio narrative, poetry and songs, works of art, diagrams, a comic, copies of original documents, stamps, post cards, posters, transcripts of the articles posted in the Lima, El Comercio newspaper and headlines of other newspapers. It also contains references to articles published in 1910, 1937 and 1957 related to Jorge Chavez Dartnell.

   
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