Monuments erected to the memory of Jorge Chavez Dartnell
The first country to build a monument to commemorate the heroic feat of the crossing of the Alps by Jorge Chavez Dartnell was Italy. That is why, in the Domodossola field, where Chavez’s Bleriot crashed after defeating the Alps, a granite column with an inscription with the name of the conqueror of the Alps was erected. Also in the main square of the city of Domodossola a monument was erected to the memory of Chavez, with an inscription of the date of the death of the brave Peruvian airman: September 27, 1910. The construction of this monument was promoted in Rome by the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
In Paris, a monument with the bust of Jorge Chavez was erected in the Ecole d’Electricité et Mécanique Industrielles Violet of Paris, where Chavez graduated as an engineer.
The Swiss government had two monuments erected: one in the filed from where Chavez’s Bleriot XI took off to start his journey of the crossing of the Alps, and another one in the main Square of Brigue, next to the field where Chavez took off towards his immortal flight. On December 12, 1920, the Municipality of Brigue, after an initiative of its Major, Doctor Guglieminetti, inaugurated the monument to the memory of Jorge Chavez Dartnell who departed from this place to overflow the impressive Alps for the first time in the history of aviation. The Town hall of the Municipality of Brigue provided the land. The Peruvian government helped to build the monument, which was sculpted by Mr. Colin. The work of art in honor to Chavez was unveiled in a ceremony, which Prince Roland Bonaparte attended
In Peru on September 23, 1937, 27 years after the feat of the crossing of the Alps by Peruvian engineer and aviator Jorge Antonio Chavez Dartnell the monument to the honor of Jorge Chavez Dartnell, designed by sculptor Eugenio Beroni was unveiled. This ceremony took place during the Inter American Technical Aviation Conference, held in Lima and as a homage to the Italian community resident in Peru, in the fourth centenary of the foundation of Lima, celebrated in 1935.
The work of art was placed in the Jorge Chavez Park, which name was given by the Municipality to the place where this monument was erected, close to the Santa Beatriz Racecourse, which today has become Campo de Marte and Avenida de la Peruanidad.
The inauguration of this monument was made with an impressive civic and military ceremony. The President of the Republic, Peruvian Army General Oscar R. Benavides, attended the ceremony together with the heads of the public powers and members of the diplomatic corps in Lima. High rank Armed Forces Officers and Government officials together with special foreign delegations that were attending the Inter American Technical Aviation Conference held in Lima were present too. A large number of ordinary citizens, which, according to the Lima Universal newspaper in its edition of September 24th, reached 90 000 people, were crowding the facilities of the Santa Beatriz Racecourse.
The special guest of this ceremony was Peruvian Aviator Juan Bielovucic. He was also greatly admired in Europe after his magnificent flight performances. He was the second aviator in the world, after Jorge Chavez, to cross the Alps from Brigue to Domodossola on January 25, 1913, keeping the promise that he made to Jorge Chavez, when he visited him on his deathbed: to continue the work of Chavez and defeat the Alps, not only to avenge his fellow citizen, but also, to honor his country and contribute to the creation of Peruvian aviation.
The President of the Republic arrived at 11 o’clock in the morning. The monument was unveiled after the opening words, while the band played the notes of the Peruvian National Anthem followed by the Italian Royal March. Commemoratory bronze plates were placed by the representatives of the Argentina, Brazil and Chile delegations, which had inscribed their admiration for the distinguished aviator Jorge Chavez Dartnell in bronze.
During this inauguration the Chair of the Committee Pro Monument, Mr. Gino Salocchi, successor of Mr. Giovanni Battista Isola who started planning this homage in 1935, gave the following speech: “Sculptor Eugenio Baroni exalts perfectly well the victory sanctified by the sacrifice: the greatest and noblest of victories. This monument rather than a symbol is an altar where Peruvian youth will receive the motivation to take their beloved country to higher summits, to a better destination”. Following this speech, the turn came for the Major of the Lima Provincial Council, Mr. Eduardo Dibós Dammert to speak. He was one of the major contributors to this work. Among other things, the Major expressed: “In this place, the past and the future will converge to pay tribute to the maximum hero of Peruvian aviation: Jorge Chavez, the heroic adolescent who opened the road to modern aviation, conquering eternal glory for himself and for his country”. The next speaker was Peruvian Air Corps Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Alva Saldaña, Chief of Staff of the Peruvian Air Corps, and immediately after, the Peruvian Aviation Anthem was played. After the anthem, the following people spoke: the Chief of the Plane Squadron of Italy, General Ulises Longo; Commander Augusto Magnan, representative of the Chile Aviation Corps; General Armando Verdaguez, representative of the Argentina Aviation Corps and doctor Joaquín Licinio de Souza y Almeida, representative of Brazil.
After the above-mentioned representatives completed their speeches, the President of the Republic was invited to walk around the monument and to admire the work of art in detail. He then walked back to the stands of honor of the Santa Beatriz Racecourse and watched the military parade with the participation of the Peruvian Navy, the Peruvian Air Corps and the Peruvian Army, who marched to the notes of the Music Band of the Peruvian Republican Guard.
At 12:40, a close formation of four combat plane squads, which in total added to 65 biplanes belonging to the U.S. “Ranger” aircraft carrier, flew over the monument and the tribunes of the Santa Beatriz Racecourse receiving the applauses of the attendants. Then came two planes, one Junkers and one Boeing from Colombia, and one of them dropped a flower wreath over the monument. Three Ecuadorian planes continued followed by one plane from Panama, five Bolivian Hawk fighter planes, three Chile Curtiss-Falcon planes and 51 different kinds of planes, all of which flew over the place. Hanriot, Caproni Ca-111, Caproni Ca-114, Hawk, instruction planes, bombing planes, fighter planes and hydroplanes of the Peruvian Aeronautic Corps, flew over the course, evolving and maneuvering during twenty minutes over the stands and over the Chavez monument.
Later, ten Fiat CR-32 planes of the Italian Royal Aeronautics in two squads made up by five planes each, made acrobatic evolutions over the monument and over the Santa Beatriz Racecourse. Peruvian Air Corps, Second Lieutenant Ernesto Gómez Cornejo performed the final act of this air presentation, in a Caprioni Ca-113 plane making a series of acrobatics that were greatly admired by the attendants who cheered at the end of this demonstration. At 3:30 in the afternoon, the President of the Republic left the Racecourse and the inauguration ceremony of the monument to Jorge Chavez ended.
On the following day, the newspaper headlines informed about this spectacular ceremony in large headlines like the following:
“Yesterday Lima witnessed the most formidable aeronautic performance held in South America”,
“An enormous crowd gathered to see the flight of the one hundred and forty airplanes that paid tribute to Jorge Chavez”.
“Land, air and sea armed forces passed by”;
“Impressive acrobatic show of the Italian Squad and Second Lieutenant Gomez Cornejo.”
(Universal Newspaper, Lima September 24, 1937.)
These headlines were developed in five pages, accompanied by many pictures.
Jorge Chavez in the World Journalism: Pages of the Newspaper "Universal" of Lima, September 24, 1937 (in Spanish)
Multimedia Archive: Monuments erected to the memory of Jorge Chavez Dartnell