Thursday 3 January 2013

Visitors - The Argentine Connection

Major Pedro Zanni and his mechanic, Felipe Beltrame left Amsterdam, Holland from Schiphol *Airport on July 26, 1924 flying a Fokker C-IV biplane named "Ciudad de Buenos Aires" on an attempt for a round-the-world flight. 
On August 19, 1924 while in Hanoi, French Indo-China after having flown 7,727 miles in 85H 25M flying time, the aircraft crashed upon take-off. A replacement seaplane version of the previous aircraft now called "Provincia de Buenos Aires" was transported from Buenos Aires to Haiphong. The crew then flew on to Kagoshima, Kyushu on October 9 and then Kasumigara**, Ibaraki Prefecture on October 11, 1924 flying an additional 2,939 miles in 34H 25M flying time. The next morning the aviators arrived in Ueno Station, Tokyo where they were greeted by the Argentine Ambassador and other members of the small Argentinian community. They spent the winter in Japan and made a new attempt for their round-the-world flight attempt the following spring preparing for the next stage of their flight via the Kuriles and the Aleutian Islands to North America. While in Japan Major Zanni was "offered the post of military attache for the Argentine Republic at Tokio, which he accepted, enabling him to perfect his arrangements for crossing the Pacific Ocean."
Unfortunately the seplane was heavily damaged on May 14, 1925 when taking off from Kizugawajiri in Osaka, and the flight plan was cancelled.

Major Pedro Zanni was born on March 12, 1891. He entered the Military Academy in 1906 and graduated as gunner in 1909. He crossed the Andes twice in 1920 with Captain Antonio Parodi and was a prominent aviator in Argentine and the rest of South America. (source: CENTRO NAVAL of the Argentine Republic, article in Spanish with more photos: HERE)
*According to Wikipedia: "Before 1852, the Haarlemmermeer polder in which the airport lies was a large lake, in the shallow waters of which sudden violent storms could claim many ships. In English, Schiphol translates to 'Ship Grave', a reference to the number of ships lost in the area." How interesting name for an airport!! 
**Take a look here for more on lake Kasumigaura.  

"Provincia de Buenos Aires" upon arrival in Kasumigaura.

While searching for Major Zanni on the net I discovered this amazing source, TROVE of the National Library of Australia, with an amazing collection of vintage newspapers. So below is a selection of vintage newspaper clippings mostly from Reuters revealing some very interesting details about Major Zanni's adventure. There are some mistakes but I think they are very useful for exact route and departure/arrival details as well as other first hand trivia. I hope you will find them as interesting as I did. I kept the original language and spelling (note "Tokio") but removed the constant mentioning of "Major Pedro Zanni (MPZ) from Argentine on world flight".
1. LONDON, February 27
TREASURE TROVE. Major Pedro Zanni (MPZ), of the Argentine, who will embark in May on a world flight in a British aeroplane, purchased a quantity of bedding at a furniture sale in Buteshire. He found £2000 worth of war bonds in a pillow.
MPZ started this morning on his flight around the world-Reuter
PARIS, July 26.
MPZ arrived here this afternoon.-Reuter
3. Lyons, July 27.
MPZ, arrived here today from Paris. He is following a route similar to that taken by Squadron Leader MacLaren.
MPZ, arrived here yesterday, and has left for Aleppo. He says that he expects to follow the same route as Major Pelletier d'Oisy the French aviator.
5. Bagdad, July 31.
MPZ, arrived here at noon to-day, and departed for Basra four hours later. He reports that his machine is running splendidly.
6. Friday, August 1
MPZ arrived at Bandar Abbas.
7. ARRIVAL IN INDIA. (Monday, August 4, 1924)
MPZ arrived at Karachi at eight minutes past four o'clock this morning.
8. Karachi, August 5
MPZ left here for Nasirabad this morning.
9. August 5.
MPZ reached Nasirabad (Bengal) this afternoon. He will arrive at Allahabad (United Provinces) tomorrow.
10. August 7.
MPZ, attempted to start for Calcutta at 5.30 this morning, but the undercarriage of his machine sank into the sodden earth, smashing the propeller. A spare propeller was fitted and MPZ left at 9:20 a.m.
11. Calcutta. August 8
MPZ, who was on his way to Calcutta from Allahabad, is reported to have made a forced landing at the village of Isri (198 miles from Calcutta).
(Reported from) LONDON, Friday, August 22, 1924
The Argentine airman, Major Zanni, reached Rangoon in a- non-stop flight, from Calcutta in eight hours. He flew through a torrential monsoon, over the Bay of Bengal.
13. The above was reported from London on August 22, but MPZ had the accident in Hanoi on August 19. So the above indicates the conditions under which he crossed to Burma.
14. (Reported from) Tokio. August 22, 1924
Major Zanni will continue has flight with the spare aeroplane which arrived in Kobe
to-day on board of a vessel from London. It will probably be transhipped to the steamer Wakasa Maru to-morrow, and it should reach Haiphong (Tongking) within a fortnight.
An announcement to this effect was made to-day by Dr. S. Garcia Uriburu (the Argentina Minister to Japan), who received a cable message to-day from Major Zanni asking for the immediate shipment of the machine to Haiphong. Major Zanni said in his message: "My machine crashed, but I am determined to continue my flight."
Patricio Murphy, Major Zanni's advance agent, has been directed to continue his work of' laying out the route of the flight.
The question of whether a trans-Pacific flight will be attempted will not be settled till Major Zanni reaches Tokio, but Dr. Uriburu, several Japanese officials, and a number of American air officers who assisted the American fliers, consider that the season is too late for such a venture. - Reuter
15. HONG KONG, September 22.
MPZ arrived here to-day.
(Reported from) TOKIO, Wednesday.
The Argentine world flier, Major Zanni, and his companions left Kowloon at 8.15 this morning, aboard a motor boat for their aeroplane for the purpose of resuming the flight to Foochow. When off the naval yard the motor boat collided with the Government steam launch Victoria. The motor boat was struck on the starboard quarter and slightly damaged.
The impact caused it to heel over, and Major Zanni and Senor Rouillon were thrown into the water. Major Zanni’s mechanic, Beltrame, jumped aboard the Victoria. Senor Rouillon swam, but Major Zanni disappeared and as he was unable to swim his companions gave him up for lost, but another motor boat which was passing picked him and Senor Rouillon up.
The Victoria came around and took the party aboard, landing them at Kowloon.
Major Zanni lost a pocket book containing bank notes and a letter of credit, but recovered a chart. He retained his composure after the accident, and was none the worse for his immersion. Beltrame exhibited considerable anxiety for the safety of his chief, who was not seen for five minutes after the collision.
Major Zanni hopes to "hop off" for Foochow to-morrow morning.-Reuter
17. HONGKONG, Saturday, 27 September
MPZ, left for Foochow this morning, and arrived there this afternoon.
18. SHANGHAI, October 1
MPZ left Foochow for Shanghai this morning, and reached Shanghai at 3 p.m. -Reuter.
19. SHANGHAI, Thursday, 9 September
MPZ has left for Kagoshima.
20. KAGOSHIMA, October 9
MPZ arrived here at 4.10 p.m. to-day from Shanghai.
Major Zanni's Progress.
NOW AT TOKIO - February 25, 1925
The Argentinian aviator, Major P. L. Zanni, will resume, his flight round the world, starting, from Tokio, on May 1. This announcement was made by an attache to the Argentine Legation at Tokio, who has arrived here, to make final arrangements for the Pacific to be crossed by the Aleutian route, to Vancouver, thence to San Francisco, New York and Newfoundland.
An attempt will be made to cross the Atlantic.
TOKIO, Tuesday
MPZ, who had to postpone his attempt last year to fly round the world, owing to the lateness of the season, will probably be leaving Kasumigaura, in the Kurile Islands, for Alaska on May 24. If the Soviet refuses him permission for landing at Petropavlosk, Kamchatka, Major Zanni proposes alighting on the sea surface.
Major Zanni’s seaplane overturned today while he was attempting to start, about noon, for Kasumi Gaura. It was just leaving the water when the two floats broke off, the machine being overturned. A launch immediately proceeded to the scene, taking on board the Argentine aviator and his two assistants, who were unhurt. The plane was towed by a launch to land and lifted by a crane.-Reuter.
(Reported from) BUENOS AIRES, May 29
The attempt at a world flight, by the Argentine airman, Major Pedro Zanni, is considered here to have ended. It is understood that the organising committee will shortly adopt a resolution to this effect.
A message from the aviator in Tokio stated that the repairs to his machine could not be completed before July, and the weather conditions would necessitate postponement of the flight till September, by which time the charter of the vessels engaged to patrol the route would have expired.-Reuter 


Anonymous said...

Hi George,
This puzzles me, something is not right with the date given. Is not it the other way around?
You can't have october before september

". The crew then flew on to Kagoshima, Kyushu on October 9 and then Kasumigara**, Ibaraki Prefecture on September 11, 1924 "


Arawasi said...

Nice catch, Jacob. Duly corrected.

Unknown said...


Thanks for the information you have posted on this flight. I have been researching some photos that were found in my late mothers possessions. One of the photos is of the Ciudad De Buenos Aires aircraft. On the back, the following text is written 'The Argentine Aeroplane on the World Flight. This was taken on a very dull day. Landed here at 4.80 2nd August. Left on the 5/8/24. T???? Major Janine'. Some of the writing is not completely clear. The information above implies that the photo was taken in Karachi, which ties up with another photo we have. The information on this photo does modify the time line above.

I would be happy to scan/send the photo is it is of any interest.


Dave Stanley