San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Goodwill Flight Lands at Juan Santamaría Airport

Recreating the historic flight by pilot Theodore Gildred from San Diego, California, to Quito, Ecuador, in a Ryan Brougham plane dubbed “Ecuador” in 1931, Gildred’s son and two grandsons landed a plane named Ecuador III Monday at JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport, northwest of San José.

The stopover in San José is part of the father and sons’ flight mission, which is scheduled to cover some 4,200 miles with stops in Mexico City, Guatemala City, Managua, Nicaragua, and Panama City, before landing in Quito. At each stop, the aviators are meeting with local officials and the media to “promote goodwill and better relations between the United States and Latin America,” the statement said, to honor Gildred’s work in Ecuador 75 years ago.

In 1931, Gildred flew from San Diego to Quito and stayed to help establish the country’s first airmail service. To “honor the memory of that achievement” his sons and grandsons are taking a similar flight entitled “Ecuador III – The Spirit of Goodwill,” according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy.

The Gildreds are accompanied by Erik Lindbergh, the grandson of famed U.S. aviator Charles Lindbergh, whose epic 1927 flight across the Atlantic inspired Gildred’s journey to Latin America.

Monday, Theodore Gildred Jr., a former U.S. Ambassador to Argentina and founder of the Institute of the Americas of the University of California at San Diego, was accompanied by Ministry of Foreign Relations Director Mario Brizuela, Alajuela Mayor Fabio Molina and U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Mark Langdale at a ceremony at Juan Santamaría’s Base 2.

“We’ve certainly come a long way since my father’s flight,” said Gildred Jr. “But while aviation has advanced considerably, there is still a tremendous need to do all we can to maintain and improve relations between the United States and Latin America.”


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