America obviously isn’t the only country with a proud history of aviation, in fact we love flying so much, we’ve even got monuments to other countries’ aviators. Namely the Emilio Carranza Memorial in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens.
Captain Emilio Carranza Rodríguez was a famous early 20th century aviator who became a sort of unofficial peace ambassador just before he died in a tragic plane accident. Carranza had an interest in aviation from an early age, and he enrolled in Mexico’s Military School of Aviation in 1923. He was also interested in distance flight, and he would go on to fly what was, at the time, the third-longest non-stop flight ever, from San Diego to Mexico City. As his fame grew, as did his friendship with famed American aviator Charles Lindbergh, Carranza earned the nickname, the “Lindbergh of Mexico.”
In fact it was on a flight to visit Lindbergh, among others, that Carranza would meet his demise. Carranza flew from Mexico City to Washington D.C. on a goodwill flight in response to one that Lindbergh flew in the opposite. Carranza made it to D.C., meeting with president Calvin Coolidge, and then flew to New York. As he was scheduled to leave New York, thunderstorms crowded the sky, and Lindbergh himself warned Carranza not to fly, but he did so anyway. He did not make it far as his plane, The Mexico Excelsior, crashed in the Pine Barrens on July 12th, 1928.
The site of his tragic crash is today marked by a tall memorial plinth that was paid for, as the nearby sign says, by the “Pennies of Mexican Children.” Standing in the middle of a sandy clearing in the Wharton State Forest, the spire is decorated with Aztec-styled designs of a falling eagle. A touching, if strangely out of place monument to a hero died far from home.