Aviation has become one of the most important links of Inter-American unity. Before the war, the swift advance of air transportation in the Western Hemisphere was a powerful force in bringing the Americas closer together. Today, after Pearl Harbor and Singapore, aviation has a still greater task to perform in protecting and unifying the Americas.
Cooperation in the defense of the hemisphere and mobilization of its vast economic resources logically must bring greater development of aviation, in military, commercial and civilian flying.
“Air tour of American Republics will be undertaken by Inter-American Escadrille”
Defense periodical, 1941.
A group of private citizens interested in the development of aviation in the Western Hemisphere will leave Washington March 5th for a three month air tour of all American Republics, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Coordinator of Commercial and Cultural Relations between American Republics, announced March 1, 1941. The air tour will be undertaken by the Inter-American Escadrille, a private nonprofit organization. The Coordinators office has cooperated with the Escadrille in arrangements for the flight.
Survey of aviation development
The group will contact leaders of civil aviation in each of the American Republics to obtain their views concerning the future development of aviation in their respective nations. As a background for this survey, the Coordinator’s office, in cooperation with other interested agencies of the Government, has studied most of the available data on the development and present status of civil aviation in this hemisphere.
The flight will be led by Major General Frank R. McCoy, United States Army, retired, president of the Foreign Policy Association and director of the Council on Foreign Relations. General McCoy has had long experience in Inter-American relations and served as chief of several conciliatory missions concerned with hemisphere political and economic affairs.
Walter Bruce Howe, who has also represented the United States on several missions to the other American Republics, will accompany General McCoy as personal assistant and council.
Alfredo de los Rios, well-known flier and Chilean-born newspaperman, will serve as copilot and will present the program and aims of the Inter-American Escadrille.
J.M. Farris, on leave of absence from Eastern Airlines through the courtesy of Captain E.V. Rickenbacker, will serve as chief pilot and Luis O. Medina, a native of Bogotá, Columbia, will serve as mechanic.
The mission will cover approximately 28,000 miles on the tour, going first to Cuba, and thereafter, in the following order: to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.
The mission will fly in a Grumman twin-engine amphibian.
The Inter-American Escadrille founded in 1935 by Mr. de los Rios, has among its directors Dr. James Rowland Angeil, president emeritus of Yale University; Dr. Carlos Duvila, Chilean diplomat, statesman, and newspaper publisher; Allen W. Dulles, prominent international lawyer, and James P. Warburg, economist and former Treasury official.
“Wings” for the Americas
The Inter-American Escadrille proposes to facilitate such cooperation through the establishment of chapters or “Wings” in each of the American Republics. A detailed plan of organization has been prepared. This will be presented to the Civil Aviation leaders in each country as a guide for such action as they may care to take. Each “Wing” will be completely self-governing and merely affiliated with the international organization, the headquarters of which will be determined each year at a convention of representative of the national Wings.
Letter written by James Farris (pilot of Grumman) to David Behneke, President of Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) on August 25th, 1941 stated:
"Aside from being financed by the U.S. Government, we had several sponsors, among them being Bendix, who loaned us the latest thing out in automatic direction equipment, which is a very valuable and useful instrument. Pratt & Whitney furnished us with spare parts for the engine, such as cylinders, pistons, etc. One of the active organizers of the flight was John Montgomery, President of the Tri-American Aviation Corporation. An old doctor who spent 30 years in the Brazilian jungles rigged us out with a very complete medicine chest and gave Alfredo and I some instruction in hypodermic injection for this and for that, which we of course immediately forgot, it being too much for our cranial capacity. The Jardur Import Company of New York furnished each of us with a waterproof, shockproof, stainless steel, chronograph aviation watch."
Left to right: Luis O. Median (mechanic), Nelson A. Rockefeller, Alfredo de los Rios, James E. Farris (pilot), General Frank McCoy, & Walter Bruce Howe