Wings Over Latin America, 1937

William K. Vanderbilt II, his wife Rosamund, and friends Edie and Robert Huntington flew around the rim of South America in Vanderbilt’s Sikorsky S-43 seaplane – from January 18 to February 11, 1937. He kept a detailed log and journal of the trip. Later that year, he privately published a book about the journey, Flying Lanes – Being the Journal of a Flight Around South America and Over the Andes. Here is a final excerpt from that book.

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Vanderbilt Museum archives Willie, Rose and Edie Huntington at airport in Antofagasta, Chile
Vanderbilt Museum archives
Rose and Willie Vanderbilt, and Edie Huntington at airport in Antofagasta, Chile

February 10, 1937 – Antiqua, Guatemala. “What a grand day. Motored with the Foreign Minister, Mr. Sanches de Latour, to Antigua, the old capital, and were met there by the Governor and shown about that most interesting and picturesque city at one time capital of Guatemala, but now abandoned as such because of earthquakes and fear of volcanic eruptions from ever restless volcanoes close by.

“One hundred churches were to be seen here, or what was left of them, magnificent facades, superb doors and still imposing and awe inspiring interiors. Several houses that we visited with architecture of pure Spanish were astonishingly lovely, and the University of San Carlos Borromeo founded in 1676 took us back to the Granada, Spain, of before the war.

Flying Lanes, dust jacket detail
Flying Lanes, dust jacket detail

“A drive up the side of the mountain to an Indian village proved most interesting; the countryside radiated in splendor before the vast backdrop of mountains, making a setting that it does not now seem possible any of us will ever forget.

“Back in town we dined with the American Minister and had a most enjoyable evening and as 4:00 a.m. was our time for getting up, we were glad to drop into our beds at midnight.”

February 11 – To Havana and Miami: The Vanderbilts and Huntingtons arrived at the airport at 5:30 a.m. “A cup of coffee was all Rose and I could muster, but then we would be home tonight. Think of it! Home! My, how good that sounded.”

After a stop in Havana, the travelers were airborne again, bound for Florida. “American Shoals light appeared at 4:50 p.m. There was the good U.S.A. once more. What a thrill went through us!” After landing in Miami, Willie wrote, “I clasp Mr. White by the hand. ‘Congratulations from all of us, a wonderful flight!’…

“Our total mileage added up to a very considerable total of 14,217 statute miles and the flying time amounted to 101 hours and 40 minutes. We had enjoyed the thrill and adventure of the journey to the utmost, but now that we were home once more we were glad to rest where we were beyond the reach of an alarm clock.”

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