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Civilian Aviation in Mexico

Summary and Keywords

The Mexican government’s civil aviation program implemented elite development strategies during a period of national reconstruction. In the decades following the revolution, political leaders and industrialists attempted to strike a balance between preserving a unique national identity and asserting their country’s place in global affairs as a competitive, modern nation. Nation builders were primarily concerned with improving the nation’s communication and transportation capabilities, although they quickly learned to exploit the spectacle of aviation through the mass media and in public ceremonies, as well. The symbolic figure of the pilot proved an adept vessel for disseminating the values championed by the country’s ruling party. Aviators validated the technological determinism underpinning the government’s development philosophy, while projecting an image of strength abroad.

This article traces the trajectory of aviation development from 1920s through the 1950s. In the process it demonstrates how the social and cultural significance of technology in Mexico changed over time. The establishment of the Department of Civil Aeronautics under the Secretariat of Communications and Public Works (SCOP), in 1928, reflected the ambitions of reform-minded officials who were intent on modernizing the country. Although the onset of the Great Depression slowed aviation development for about a decade, policymakers recommitted to the technology during World War II. President Manuel Ávila Camacho (1940–1946) used it to achieve two of his primary goals: securing the country from the threat of international fascism and shifting the nation from an agrarian to an industrial economy. Wartime aid alleviated material obstacles hamstringing national aviation development, and the rapid growth of tourism to the country in 1940s and 1950s benefited commercial airlines. Presidents Miguel Aléman (1946–1952) and Adolfo Ruiz Cortines (1952–1958) touted the success of the aviation industry as a consequence of their development policies. The near financial collapse of the country’s largest airline, Compañía Mexicana de Aviación (CMA), at the end of the decade nevertheless hinted that the country’s sustained economic growth was less miraculous than officials and foreign observers liked to believe.

Keywords: aviation, civil aviation, postrevolutionary Mexico, revolutionary reconstruction, Department of Civil Aeronautics, science and technology, infrastructure, transportation and communication, tourism, Roberto Fierro

Aviation arrived in Mexico during the 19th century as a hobby of liberal elites who were influenced by positivism and obsessed with achieving a fixed modernity. Shortly after the turn of the century, executives at the El Buen Tono tobacco company innovated a novel use for flight. By attaching a banner to an airplane they pioneered aviation as a form of mass advertisement. Porfirio Díaz’s infatuation with airplanes led him to decree the creation of the country’s first military air unit, but before the military aircraft he ordered could be procured, Francisco I. Madero, the so-called apostle of democracy, disposed Díaz and initiated the revolution.1

The upheaval that persisted over the next decade (and beyond) created a poor environment for nurturing a technology as sophisticated as aviation. The accompanying cultural paradigm change in which intellectuals re-conceptualized national identity nevertheless imprinted aviation with a character that was unique to the revolution. Just as figures such as José Vasconcelos and Manuel Gamio glorified (and mythologized) the country’s indigenous past, pilots and aeronautics workers borrowed from pre-Colombian native cultures in an attempt to realize a truly national vision of aviation in the country. Designers gave their planes names like “Quetzalcoatl” and “Tololoches,” and the nation’s first aviation magazine, Tohitli, published nationalist literary pieces alongside technical articles about aviation.2 This laid the foundation for an aviation program that both embodied and advanced the goals of revolutionary reconstruction.

Government policy aimed at fostering and administering an aviation program—from the so-called postrevolutionary period through the post–World War II economic boom—reflected the shifting logic of successive eras of nation builders and economists. By the late 1920s, a new generation of revolutionary leaders endeavored to rebuild the country, and they saw aviation as a crucial technology in doing so. They hoped to mold the technology into something that balanced the nationalist virtues espoused by the country’s intellectual and moral leaders, while providing officials with the ability to assert their country’s place in global affairs as a modern, industrializing nation.

The Establishment of the Department of Civil Aeronautics

President Plutarco Elias Calles’s decision, in 1928, to establish a Department of Civil Aeronautics3 signaled a sea change in the way federal authorities approached aeronautics technology. Situated under the Secretariat of Communications and Public Works (SCOP) and, perhaps more importantly, outside the purview of the military, the department worked to modernize, professionalize, and expand the nation’s civilian and commercial air capabilities. Officials understood this task to be an important part of reconstructing the nation in the wake of a devastating revolutionary war. During the ten years following Francisco I. Madero’s revolt against Porfirio Díaz’s authoritarian government, numerous revolutionary factions battled one another for control over the country. The war destroyed property and killed or displaced two million people—about a tenth of the country’s total population. Revolutionary discontent still simmered in the 1920s, but an alliance of Sonoran-born military officers and politicians succeeded in taking control of the federal government and attempted to unify the country.4 It endeavored to repair the country’s badly damaged infrastructure and to forge a new national identity. Officials were excited by aviation’s potential to connect populations in even the most remote areas of the countryside to the nation’s capital, and they soon discovered that the spectacle of flight created an opportunity to disseminate nationalist values to captivated audiences, and to simultaneously validate the technological determinism that underpinned the government’s development philosophy.

Officials initiated a wide range of modernizing reforms during the 1920s, the development of a national civil aviation program being among the most ambitious. Simply divorcing oversight of civil air travel from the military was a significant feat. Since aviation’s inception in the country, the military had been the only institution with the materials and expertise to develop and operate such an expensive technology. Even after the creation of Department of Civil Aeronautics, the military remained hugely influential as a matter of practical necessity. Most pilots learned to fly while attending military air schools, and some of the responsibilities of the Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Mexicana) Departamento Autonomo de Aeronautico overlapped with those of civil aviation.5 Military pilots even moonlighted for the Department of Civil Aeronautics, enjoying preferential hiring and an bonus of ten pesos a day on top of their Air Force salaries.6 The continued reliance on the Air Force testified to two of the largest challenges facing civilian aviation during the period: a dearth of material support and a shortage of trained experts.

Many of the country’s top authorities on aeronautics bemoaned military stewardship over national aviation. Colonel Roberto Fierro, the head of the Department of Civil Aeronautics under president Lázaro Cárdenas, complained that military officers simply lacked the scientific background to properly manage national aviation. Fierro believed that Mexico should instead look to nations like the United States and those in Europe as models for professionalizing their aviation program.7 His opinions echoed those of many officials throughout the federal government who felt that modernizing the country required restricting the military’s oversized role in national affairs.

Government administrators largely patterned the new Department of Civil Aeronautics after the highways program, begun three years earlier. The construction of the country’s highway system reveals how important such infrastructural projects were to nation building and identity formation during the period. In 1925, Calles created the National Road Commission to foster economic growth by facilitating transportation, trade, and industrialization. Federal authorities also hoped that building national highways would help integrate rural people into national life by creating new jobs and opening consumer markets in their communities that would connect them to urban centers.8 The mission and organization of the Department of Civil Aeronautics followed this model, but on a grander scale.

The construction of national highways and the development of civil aviation both furthered the reformers’ goal of unifying the country physically, but they did so in different ways, and with unique advantages and limitations. Roads were more accessible to a larger cross-section of people, regardless of whether they were wealthy or poor. Airplane passengers, on the other hand, paid handsomely to fly. Urban working-class and rural working-class people alike could benefit from air postal and air cargo services, but even these were more expensive than traditional shipping methods. The rate at which the aviation network expanded nevertheless highlighted why officials found it so appealing. In the simple terms of kilometers traveled, commercial aviation routes spanned a far greater territory and had done so within just a few years after the Department of Civil Aeronautics came into existence.9

The main reason the air network expanded so much faster than the national highways system had to do with the country’s diverse and often rugged terrain. Although road travel remained a more common feature of everyday life for most people, the time and labor required to construct the nation’s highways capped the rate at which the program could progress. Basic aviation infrastructure required little more than the construction of an airfield equipped with a radio tower and a hanger. Airfields functioned more like a chain of islands connected by flight paths, a concept that Brazilian officials and city planners later took to extremes when constructing Brazilia. This gave developers a way to bypass considerable environmental obstacles and connect even remote locations to national life.10

The Department of Civil Aeronautics, like the National Roads Commission, instituted a nationalist program designed to give citizens jobs in the industrial sector and safeguard against foreign domination over the economy. Both of these concerns reflected the larger goals of reconstruction. The latter, in particular, was demonstrative of officials’ desire to practice what they understood to be their revolutionary mandate. As part of the 1930 Civil Aeronautics Act, foreigners wishing to obtain concessions to deliver mail, people, or cargo needed to incorporate their business as a Mexican company. The act also required all companies to have at least one Mexican citizen sitting on their board of directors, to employ a workforce composed of 80 percent Mexican citizens overall, and to have 33 percent of management and administrative staff likewise consisting of Mexican employees. Additionally, the law stipulated that companies deposit money in the country’s central bank, the Banco Nacional de Mexico, another institution created as part of Calles’s reformist agenda.11 The 1932 General Communications Law expanded the protections, requiring pilots for domestic flights to have been born in the country, along with two-thirds of the rest of the crew. The protectionist policies adopted by the Department of Civil Aeronautics were broadly characteristic of the callista reforms, which sought to develop industry and assert national control over the economy generally.12

The results of these efforts were, nevertheless, mixed, despite the robust language given to the regulations. Foreign companies, though limited by the Civil Aeronautics Act, still found ways to influence the emerging market. Frustrations with the restrictions of early airmail service led to tensions between national and state governments, private companies, and the public. Notwithstanding these difficulties, civil aviation gained crucial momentum during the late 1920s and 1930s as a vital means of communication and transportation, and acquired nationalist characteristics as it came to symbolize the country’s technological progress.

Companía Mexicana and the Emergence of Commercial Aviation

Department of Civil Aeronautics officials were tasked with overseeing the development and regulation of the commercial air industry. The largest company at that time was the Compañía Mexicana de Aviación (CMA), which, after merging with the Compañía Mexicana de Transportación Aérea in 1924, dominated the commercial air market. Initially, Compañía Mexicana did much of its business taking aerial photography for oil companies conducting geological surveys. Under the direction of former US banker and company president George Rihl and vice-president Gustavo Espinosa Mireles, Compañía Mexicana acquired new planes for their fleet and, in 1928, secured a lucrative contract from the national government to provide regular airmail service for the post office from Mexico City to Tampico, with stops in Tuxpan and Veracruz.13

Company executives and government officials touted the inaugural run of the Mexico-Tampico line as ushering in the modern era of postal service. On April 16, 1928, officials held a ceremony attended by Rhil and Espinosa representing Compañía Mexicana, along with the sub-secretary of communications Eduardo Hay, the postmaster General Cosme Hinijosa, Department of Civil Aeronautics chief Villasana, Department of Transport chief Rodolfo Becerra Soto, and others. Hay, representing President Calles, gave a speech celebrating the flight as marking a great advance in human progress. Hay concluded his speech by smashing a bottle of champagne over the plane, baptizing it the “Ciudad de Mexico.” Hay, Rihl, Villasana, and Soto boarded the Fairchild FC-2 model monoplane to cheers and applause from the crowd, filling its four-seat passenger compartment. The “Ciudad de Mexico” took off, escorted by military and civilian planes. After landing in Tampico, Rhil and Espinosa posed for the press, delivering large bags of mail. Government officials issued a special stamp to commemorate the flight, featuring two wings flanking a wheel with a helix in the center, symbolizing progress. The new route proved to be wildly popular, allowing officials to herald the route as marking the beginning of civil aviation as an everyday facet of modern life. It also established a close relationship between the national government and Compañía Mexicana that gave the latter a competitive edge in the nascent industry. Receiving favorable treatment by the government proved to be crucial as the company worked to build a monopoly over commercial air travel during the 1930s.14

Officials celebrated the first postal route connecting the country with the United States in 1928, highlighting the intensifying interest of US companies in making inroads into Latin American markets. The line went from Chicago to Mexico City, stopping in Nuevo Laredo, Tamulipas, and drew praise from an assortment of officials and organizations that represented the breadth of interest in civil aviation. An exchange of messages between Calles and the US president Calvin Coolidge demonstrated the route’s significance to the upper echelons of both national governments, and it generated at least as much enthusiasm at the regional level. State and city officials from areas along the route, including the chambers of commerce in Dallas and Nuevo Laredo enthusiastically supported the measure. So, too, did a bevy of local businesses and civic organizations, which also wrote letters to President Calles congratulating the country on the accomplishment. In their letters, the authors expressed reoccurring themes of hope for progress, friendship, and new business opportunities.15 The outpouring illustrated what many regional actors felt was at stake: a chance to expand local economies by connecting them with international markets, and perhaps to bring an element of cosmopolitanism to their communities. Such development was nevertheless double-edged. Apprehension about the role of US companies in national aviation followed closely behind the opening of new markets.

Pan American Airlines and Foreign Influence in Commercial Aviation

In 1929, the US-based company Pan American Airlines, or Pan Am, bought CMA as part of its expansion into Latin America. The acquisition represented an important part of the company’s effort to control the largest possible portion of the international airline market. Over the next several years, Pan Am took over a number of other domestic airlines throughout the region. This strategy allowed it to circumvent the constraints of the protectionist policies guaranteed under the Civil Aeronautics Act, which required that all companies operating air concessions in the country incorporate as Mexican. The close relationship between Compañía Mexicana and the government, and the influx of capital and equipment from its new parent company, Pan Am, helped CMA out compete other domestic airlines for new concessions. It quickly grew into the country’s largest airline.16 The company’s union with Pan Am nevertheless weakened Compañía Mexicana’s patriotic credentials and ran contrary to the nationalist aim espoused by the Department of Civil Aeronautics.

Compañía Mexicana emerged as the country’s only truly national airline during the 1928–1935 period. Other commercial airlines that had been developed in the early and mid-1930s served smaller markets, usually restricted to a single region. By January 1, 1937, eleven domestic airlines other than CMA operated with regular service. Of those eleven, six flew only a single concession. The problems that often beset small airlines could quickly turn into major financial setbacks, especially after the onset of the Great Depression, which allowed the better-funded and equipped CMA to take over contracts. This was the case in 1932, when Pan Am benefited from the struggles of Compañía de Transportes Aereos Mexico-Cuba. The latter company had suffered damage to one of its planes two years earlier and subsequently fell on financial hard times. When it became apparent that the moribund company was incapable of providing regular service to all of its routes, SCOP officials denied its bid to deliver mail between Mexico and San Antonio, Texas. The contract went instead to Compañía Mexicana, which, despite charging four pesos more per kilogram of correspondence, appeared better equipped to ensure reliable service and enjoyed better connections with both governments.17

The Janus-faced state of national aviation by the mid-1930s calls for a careful evaluation of the protectionist policies designed to promote nationalism in the emerging commercial air industry. As with many programs undertaken during Calles’s presidency and the so-called Maximato (1928–1934), critics of El Jefe Maximo might too quickly write-off nationalist measures during the period as insincere or fatally flawed. Undoubtedly, officials failed to keep foreign interests out of Mexico’s aviation industry. Secretary of communications Miguel Acosta spoke to the limitations of these policies when he acknowledged in a report to president Abelardo Rodríguez that allowing subsidiaries of Pan Am to take control of the route from California to Mexico was tantamount to accepting its monopoly, but that the only other option would be to suspend service on that route. Pan Am also flaunted article 440 of the General Communications Law requiring domestic pilots to be Mexican by birth. Certainly, the country’s proximity to the industrialized power to its north limited the extent to which officials could exercise nationalist control over the economy.18

Officials nonetheless accomplished a remarkable amount given the onset of the Great Depression. The civil aviation program established an industry that created new, skilled jobs for citizens as pilots, engineers, mechanics, meteorologists, radio telegraphers, and other support staff. Even if passenger air travel remained limited, largely reserved for wealthy government, military, and business officials, the transportation of correspondence and goods allowed people far removed from Mexico City to connect with the capital and other regions. The improvements in communications infrastructure that aviation allowed helped officials develop a sense of unity that was crucial in forming a new national identity. Although the nationalist prescriptions established from 1928 to the mid-1930s were not fully realized, they provided the structure and legal grounding for more robust policies and enforcement during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas.

Air Show, Goodwill Flights, and the Spectacle of Modernity

Government officials proved adept at using aviation’s potential for spectacle to publicize their efforts to industrialize the country. Daring pilots flying in airshows or on goodwill missions excited nationalist passions and created a new sort of celebrity to serve as the face of the official modernization programs. A year after the establishment of the Department of Civil Aviation, authorities used the 1929 Semana Aerea, “Air Week,” to announce Mexican aviation’s arrival on the world stage. The five-day air show featured fantastical demonstrations of aeronautics technology to impress foreign investors and visiting dignitaries, and to cultivate public support for the national aviation program. Semana Aerea packaged the politics and business of aviation together as a festival, helping organizers appeal to a wide audience. Large crowds seeking diversion mingled at Semana Aerea celebrations, and live music and parades filled time between air shows, ensuring near-constant entertainment for audience members. Newspapers printed advertisements and itineraries for the festivities and cameramen filmed the jubilant crowds and aerial acrobatics.19

Semana Aerea drew people from across the country to Balbuena Field in Mexico City. Airlines offered special rates for travelers to the festival and officials prepared for an influx of local traffic.20 The Semana Aerea celebration combined a festival atmosphere with elements of a sporting event. Civil aviation organizations drew parallels between flying and sports culture, often referring to flying as a sport and pilots as sportsmen. Sporting matches frequently accompanied air exhibitions, and the 1929 Semana Aerea was no different. It featured a calisthenics demonstration, a Jai Alai match, and a lunch held by the Chapultepec Sports Club.21 The country’s upper-class regarded such events as thoroughly modern endeavors, instructive for developing a healthy and active citizenry. Semana Aerea events pushed the sports analogy further, and pilots competed for trophies in a number of air races and contests. Foreign and domestic pilots flew from Puebla to Mexico City in a series of races divided into divisions of civil aviators and military aviators, and by the classifications of their aircraft. Pilots also put on air circuses, dazzling crowds with aerial acrobatics and formation flying. Parachuting displays highlighted the emergence of a technology that further advanced humankind’s dominion over the skies.22

The Semana Aerea was not the only medium through which officials used the spectacle of aviation to win over the public. Charles Lindbergh’s successful nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in May 1927 captured imaginations across the globe. The accomplishment launched his meteoric rise, earning him the reputation as the world’s foremost aviator and making “Lindy” a household name overnight. As in nearly every other nation on earth, the Mexican public followed press coverage of Lindbergh’s flight, and the development of aviation more generally, with great enthusiasm. So when Lindbergh made preparations to fly to Mexico later that year in his “Spirit of St. Luis,” the government and army officials hailed it as an important opportunity to win public support for aviation development in their country. Air ace Emilio Carranza, an admirer and contemporary of the norteamericano, was among the most vocal advocates for Lindbergh’s trip. The young pilot had garnered national attention when he flew nonstop from Mexico City to Juarez on September 2nd that same year, winning him the record for the longest nonstop flight by a Mexican pilot. His personal relationship with Lindbergh upon their meeting in Mexico City initiated the country’s entrance into the arena of international goodwill flights.23

In July 1928, Carranza captivated the nation when he flew from Mexico City to New York. Tragically, he crashed on the return flight. Officials used elaborate funerary ceremonies to present, for the first time, the aviator as having been martyred on the altar of modernity. The symbols, performances, and invented traditions that went into the canonization of the aviator grew more elaborate and better established when another Air Force pilot, Pablo Sidar, and his copilot, Carlos Rovirosa, crashed off the coast of Costa Rica on a goodwill tour of South America in 1930. After the crash, newspaper articles fixated on Rivirosa’s bereft mother and on Sidar’s fiancée, ex-president Plutarco Elias Calles’s daughter Artemisa Calles, as personifications of the nation’s grief. Although their funerals once again played into officials’ desire to cultivate a unified national identity, president Pascual Ortiz Rubio suspended such flights, and the practice was not revived until after Lázaro Cárdenas was elected president in 1934.

The Cárdenas Presidency

Cárdenas’s inauguration marked the beginning of a new era in politics, and his administration left an indelible mark on national aviation. The industry regained some momentum after suffering stagnation in the early 1930s, as the economy slowly began to recover from the Depression. Cárdenista officials looked to take advantage of these improved conditions by reorganizing the Department of Civil Aeronautics. Department officials also made policy changes that reflected the new administration’s attitudes toward industrial development. Authorities worked to reduce foreign influences while increasing their access to the technology, training, and the materials needed to expand the nation’s air network. Consequently, aeronautics attained significantly greater cultural importance in a society concerned with both its industrial capacity and, by the late 1930s, protection from foreign aggression. The intersection between the politics of the Cárdenas era and aviation development illustrates the shifting priorities of the national party.

Acrimony between the administration and industrialists grew as the president expanded worker protections and increased the power of labor unions as the industrialists pushed for a laissez faire approach. The dispute peaked when Cárdenas exercised his constitutional powers to legally nationalize the oil industry in 1938. The decision angered not only industrialists in the country, but also sparked outrage from foreign business interests in the United States and Britain. Fearing that the growing backlash might lead to a reversal of his reforms, Cárdenas undertook measures to consolidate his gains. He reorganized the party into the Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (PRM), which mitigated the power of the military and balanced the voices of rural and industrial labor unions within the party. His administration focused on industrial policy over rural land reform after 1938. The shift marked a turning point, whereby industry fully and finally overtook agriculture as the primary focus of the government’s development strategy and, in turn, stimulated growth in the country’s aviation capabilities.24

Civil aeronautics policy under Cárdenas reflected the administration’s concern for protecting workers’ rights and exercising greater national control over industry. This began with the selection of Francisco Múgica, the president’s former political mentor, to head the SCOP. Múgica’s background as leader of the Jacobins during the constitutional conventional endeared him to the far left of the PNR. He used his official position and close relationship with Cárdenas to influence the president’s agenda, becoming a vocal advocate for populist social reforms.25 His oversight of civil aviation led to the enforcement of article 440 of the General Communications Law, requiring that pilots be Mexican citizens by birth. Companies had violated this law with impunity before 1936.26 He used this approach to furthering national controls—enforcing existing legislation that previous administrations had proved unable or unwilling to put into effect—to advance social justice repeatedly during the Cárdenas sexeñio, the most famous example being the oil expropriation.27

Cárdenas appointed famed goodwill flyer Roberto Fierro to head the Department of Civil Aeronautics for his new administration. Fierro sought to further professionalize the industry by continuing to rollback military influence and increase training for pilots and aeronautics experts. He also hoped that aviation could play an impactful role in providing emergency services, especially to rural populations.28 Although the department made some significant strides toward realizing these goals, financial limitations that kept the rate of aviation development slow persisted throughout the Cárdenas years.

Tourism and Commercial Aviation

The onset of World War II and the country’s subsequent alliance with the United States helped Department of Civil Aeronautics officials to overcome chronic shortages in financing, equipment, and expertise. Manuel Ávila Camacho, the country’s wartime president, demonstrated his eagerness to take full advantage of wartime aid in his 1943 Mensaje a la Nación y Otros Discursos. He identified aeronautics as a strategically important technology not just for its military applications, but also for the advancement of the country as a whole.29 The stars finally aligned for the government reformers and industrial elites pushing for aviation development in the 1940s, as the country’s tourism industry blossomed at the same moment as it secured access to materials and know-how vital to civil aviation.

US aid arrived in a number of forms. The Lend-Lease program provided national aviation with new aircraft and related supplies. The military benefited most directly from this, but aircraft used by the FAM often found a second life at air schools or even in commercial fleets.30 The Ávila Camacho and Roosevelt governments also collaborated to create two civil air schools, one in San Antonio, Texas, and the other in Ciudad Puebla, Puebla. The United States agreed to provide ten light aircraft to each school and eight scholarships to Mexican students.31 A highly successful US Civilian Pilot Training Program both augmented military training and contributed to the expanded pool of aviation professionals available after the war. This included not only pilots but aeronautics engineers and mechanics as well.32 Even members of the famed Squadron 201, the unit of fighter pilots who were stationed in the Philippines and fought Japanese forces in the Pacific, entered the civil sector on leaving the Air Force. Three former Squadron 201 pilots personally flew for postwar presidents Miguel Alemán, Adolfo Ruiz Cotínes, and Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, and others found work for commercial airlines.33

The war proved particularly advantageous for airlines working to develop the tourist industry from 1940 to 1946. Nelson Rockefeller’s Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA) and US business interests joined with the newly formed Mexican Tourist Association to promote travel from abroad. Pan Am, American Airlines, Braniff Airway, and other airlines launched advertising campaigns that played on romanticized conceptions of exotic natives to promote the ancient indigenous ruins to vacationers. One advertisement for Aerovias Braniff that appeared in US travel magazines touted the “rich travel market in Mexico” with a picture of an indigenous woman embroidering geometric patterns into a white cloth. CMA publicized the new airport it constructed in Mérida by touting its modern amenities, proximity to Mayan ruins, and cutting-edge meteorological and radio communications systems. By 1946, the country had become a go-to destination for US tourists.34

Civil aviation entered a new stage of development during the postwar period. Whereas the industry had long symbolized reformers’ vision for their country’s future, after the war it became a powerful social and economic institution that was integral to official plans for modernization. Government-led strategies to grow the economy, first under Miguel Alemán (1946–1952) and later Adolfo Ruiz Cotínes (1952–1958), relied on increasing industrial output and tourist revenue.35 Commercial aviation facilitated both processes, and because of this, it enjoyed generous financial backing by the federal government and friendly regulations designed to benefit the industry.

The growth of industrial capacity and tourism provided government authorities with the impetus to overhaul the nation’s aviation infrastructure, particularly its airports. The process began in 1947 with an extensive renovation of the Central Airport in Mexico City that took six years to complete and cost 40 million pesos.36 SCOP officials also oversaw a major expansion of the country’s provincial airports and rural airfields intended to promote commerce and expanded federal oversight. In addition to these reforms, the government invested heavily in radio and communications technology that made air travel faster and safer and helped keep pace with advances in civil aeronautics. Although the outcome of these measures was a qualified success for the Alemán and Ruiz Cortines administrations, both dealt with setbacks and cost overruns, and complaints about favoritism and inefficiency.37 Nor did everyone benefit equally. Rural working-class people, as they had in the past, faced dispossession and other hardships. In this way, the expansion exemplified the government’s push toward urbanization and industrialization at the expense of the countryside.38

Airlines made rapid strides after the war thanks to the tourist boom and the government’s taking an active role in the industry, although problems with worker unrest and the onset of a financial crisis during the late 1950s and 1960s makes the era, in hindsight, appear more gilded than golden. CMA investors had watched the company’s capital grow from 4.8 million pesos in 1944 to 17 million pesos in 1947, 22 million in 1950, and then 35 million in 1953. In 1957, it posted its first major losses in thirteen years, dropping over three million pesos. A report to the board blamed the cost the company incurred when it invested in the DC-7C, which turned out to be mostly useless.39 In retrospect, the loss may have actually been the first warning sign of a larger financial downturn that became obvious in 1959.

By 1968 Mexicana teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. Only the intervention of a group of Mexican businessmen at the eleventh hour saved the company from collapse. They purchased the remaining Pan Am shares, and in so doing, made CMA a fully Mexican company for the first time since 1929.40 The country experienced an economic downturn in the 1970s and 1980s that created significant problems not just for Mexicana, but for airlines broadly. Aeronaves de Mexico underwent a financial crisis in the early 1970s and again in 1988, forcing it to declare bankruptcy. Another national economic crisis in the mid-1990s nearly spelled ruin for both Mexicana and Aeronaves de Mexico, and the consortium of banks known as the Corporation International de Aviation purchased both companies.41 The foreign takeover of the country’s two largest airlines reflected a grander turn toward economic globalization and neoliberalism best embodied by the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). A widespread outcry in response to the government’s failure to save Mexicana from bankruptcy in 2010 reflected popular frustration with the inability of NAFTA and neoliberal economists to alleviate inequality or address many of the economic problems facing everyday people.42


From the establishment of the Department of Civil Aeronautics to the tourism boom of the 1940s and 1950s, civil aviation slowly but surely gained what Hugh Thomas called technological momentum.43 In 1928, aviation symbolized reformers’ vision for the country’s future as a thoroughly modern, industrialized nation. External factors, such as the Great Depression and continued political unrest, nevertheless prevented officials from fully capitalizing on the technology’s promise. After World War II, it grew into an integral part of the government’s development strategy. As an industry deemed vital to national interest during the so-called Mexican Miracle, it demanded official’s attention in the form of federal investment in airlines and related infrastructure. Nevertheless, Compañía Mexicana’s financial turbulence in the late 1950s and 1960s exposed vulnerabilities in the national economy that, by the 1970s, had metastasized into a full-blown economic downturn.44 The country’s reliance on expanding its industrial capacity and tourism proved not to be a panacea for its economic woes.

Discussion of the Literature

Most publications on aviation in Mexico remain geared to enthusiasts or industry insiders. The magazine Tohtli, perhaps the first widely read periodical regarding aviation in the country, reflected the technology’s dependency on the military. First published in 1917 by the newly founded Escuela Nacíonal de Aviación, the military air school, Tohtli provided readers with international and domestic aviation news. It also serves as an early example of how revolutionary governments paired references to the country’s glorified indigenous past with projections of a mighty industrialized future.

More recent publications either targeted popular audiences, such as with José Villela Gomez’s Breve historia de la aviación en México and Manuel Ruíz Romero’s numerous publications, or were hagiographic company histories, the most notable being Salvador Novo’s Historia de la aviacion en Mexico. These works do an exemplary job of relating basic factual information to readers interested in the country’s aviation history, but offer little in the way of broader analysis. Shawn England’s article “‘Mexicans Are Good Flyers’: Militarized Airpowers, Aviation Idols, and Diplomacy in Revolutionary Mexico” suggests that scholastic interest in the subject may be growing, but as it stands, academic histories on national aviation remain scant.

Works of aviation history are further developed elsewhere in Latin America. Willie Hiatt’s monograph The Rarified Air of the Modern: Airplanes and Technological Modernity in the Andes explores how aviation and aviators contributed to national identity in Peru. Lars Denicke’s work on the construction of Brasilia illustrated aviation affected how city planners and others thought about modernity, organization, and physical space by providing a bird’s-eye view of the world. Both works make significant contributions to the literature because they use aviation as a means of discussing larger issues related to nation building.

Further research devoted to exploring the intersection between aviation development, gender, and race can help bring clarity to questions about nation-building efforts in the country. A great deal more remains to be done to explore how the expropriation of land for use as airports impacted indigenous people, who were celebrated as symbols of the nation’s unique heritage even as they were dismissed as impediments to progress. Women’s voices remain conspicuous in their silence, but a determined researcher could help bring their stories to the forefront. Investigating how women contributed to and were affected by the national aviation program would go far to revise and improve the dominant, and hugely flawed, conception of technology as the natural domain of men. A critical analysis of aviation since the 1960s holds great potential for illuminating how neoliberalism gained popularity within the federal government. Such a study might focus on Compañía Mexicana de Aviación, not for the purpose of waxing nostalgic, but rather to approach the company as a bellwether for the country’s airline industry.

Primary Sources

The Archivo General De La Nación (AGN) houses government documents and correspondence pertinent to the Department of Civil Aeronautics in its Ramo Secretaría Comunicaciónes y Transportes, Dirreción General de Aeronautica Civil. Correspondence to the president, including appeals and protests, along with presidential orders and speeches related to aviation, can be found in the AGN’s Presidential Collection. Government reports and other documents dealing with civil aviation and foreign policy, including international agreements and laws regulating civil air travel to and from the country, are held by the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE) in its Archivo Historico Genaro Estrada.

The Fideicomiso Archivos Plutarco Elías Calles y Fernando Torreblanca (FAPECFT) holds a wide variety of materials related to national aviation. Photographs and film footage of early air shows and Pablo Sidar’s funeral are included in the FAPECFT’s Fototeca Archivo Fernando Torreblanca (FAFT) and its Archivo Joaqúin Amaro Filmoteca (AJAF). The FAPECFT’s Archivo Abelardo L. Rodríguez (AAR) contains documents related to president Abelardo Rodríguez and General Juan F. Azcárate’s private investment in aircraft manufacturing. The collection also includes reports and correspondence to and from Rodríguez during his time as the commander of the Caribbean Zone during World War II.

Articles from newspapers and other periodicals can be found at the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada. The library’s Archivos Económicos are especially valuable because they house collections of newspaper clippings organized by theme, a number of which relate to national and commercial aviation. Digitalized copies of the Escuela Nacíonal de Aviación’s magazine Tohtli can be found at the HathiTrust Digital Library.

Further visual sources related to Mexican aviation are held at the Universidad Autónoma de Mexico’s (UNAM) Filmoteca and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia’s (INAH) Sistema Nacional de Fototecas (SINAFO). UNAM’s Filmoteca contains some archival footage and feature films that depict fictionalized representations of Mexican aviation, along with promotional materials for those films. INAH’s SINAFO holds numerous photographs of civil and military aviation.

Several contemporary printed accounts and memoires are of interest to researchers investigating aviation in Mexico. Roberto Fierro’s memoire Esta es mi vida gives a good account of his personal experience with national aviation, both as a pilot for the FAM and as the head of the Department of Civil Aeronautics. Antonio Cárdenas Rodríguez’s memoir, Mis dos misiones: Monografía Aérea, is valuable to anybody researching military aviation during World War II, as is Enrique Sandoval Castarríca’s Historia oficial del a Fuerza Aérea Expedicionaria Mexicana. The SCOP’s Memoria de la Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Obras Públicas publications often include information about the civil and commercial air network and tourism.

Further Reading

Cárdenas de la Peña, Enrique. Historia de las comunicaciones y los transportes en México: El correo aviación. Mexico City: Secretaría de Communicaciónes y Transportes, 1987.Find this resource:

    Denicke, Lars. “Fifty Years’ Progress in Five Brasilia: Modernization, Globalism, and the Geopolitics of Flight.” In Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Cold War. Edited by Gabrielle Hecht, 185–208. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.Find this resource:

      England, Shawn. “‘Mexicans Are Good Flyers’: Militarized Airpower, Aviation Idols, and Aviation Diplomacy in Revolutionary Mexico.” Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 40.3 (2015): 411–428.Find this resource:

        Esparza, Rafael R. Historia de las comunicaciones y los transportes en México: Aviación. Mexico City: Secretaría de Communicaciónes y Transportes, 1987.Find this resource:

          Gomez, José Villela. Breve historia de aviación Mexicana. Mexico City: Self-published, 1971.Find this resource:

            Hagerdorn, Dan. Conquistadors of the Sky: A History of Aviation in Latin America. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008.Find this resource:

              Hiatt, Willie. “Flying ‘Cholo’: Incas, Airplanes, and the Construction of Andean Modernity in 1920s Cuzco, Peru.” The Americas 63.3 (2007): 327–358.Find this resource:

                Montejano y Aguinaga, Rafael. Para la historia de la aviación potosina. San Louis Potosí City, Mexico: Editorial Universitaria Potosina, 1986.Find this resource:

                  Novo, Salvador. Historia de la aviación en Mexico. Mexico City: Compañía Mexicana de Aviación, 1974.Find this resource:

                    Ruiz Romero, Manuel. Aeropuertos: Historia de la construcción, operación y administración aeropuertaria en México. Mexico City: Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares, 2003.Find this resource:

                      Ruiz Romero, Manuel. La aviación civil en México. México City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1999.Find this resource:

                        Ruiz Romero, Manuel. La aviación durante la revolución Mexicana. Mexico City: Soporte Aeronautico, 1988.Find this resource:

                          Ruiz Romero, Manuel. Grandes vuelos en la aviacion Mexicana. Mexico City: Grupo Editorial Aviación, 1986.Find this resource:

                            Schwab, Stephen. “The Role of the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force in World War II: Late, Limited, but Symbolically Significant.” Journal of Military History 66.4 (2002): 1115–1140.Find this resource:


                              (1.) Ruiz Romero, La aviación durante la revolución Mexicana (Mexico City: Soporte Aeronautico, 1988), 17–18; and Shawn England, “‘Mexicans Are Good Flyers’: Militarized Airpower, Aviation Idols, and Aviation Diplomacy in Revolutionary Mexico,” Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 40.3 (2015): 414.

                              (2.) José Villela Gomez, Breve historia de aviación Mexicana (Mexico City: Complejo editorial Mexicano, 1971), 209–219. Tohtli was published from 1915 to 1939. For the column “Literatura Mexicana,” see, for example, Tohtli: Revista de aeronautica military 2.1 (1917) to 3.12 (1918). Available online.

                              (3.) Archivo General de la Nación, Fondo Calles–Obregon, Acuerdo 665–1928. Parts of this article first appeared in Peter Soland, “Mexican Icarus: Modernity, National Identity, and Aviation Development from 1928–1958” (PhD diss., University of Arizona, 2016).

                              (4.) For more on the impact of the Sonoran alliance, see Jürgen Buchenau, “The Sonoran Dynasty and the Reconstruction of the Mexican State,” in A Companion to Mexican History and Culture, ed. William H. Beezley (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 407–419.

                              (5.) Archivo General de la Nación, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, caja 945 exped. 552.4/1, Fierro to president Cárdenas, August 16, 1934; and Grafica General de Organization y Funcionamiento del Departmento Autonomo de Aeronautica; Direccion de Aviacion Civil.

                              (6.) Archivo Historico Genaro Estrada de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (hereafter, SRE), Legajo L-E 209, vol. 2, Sexta Conferencia Internacional Americana. Report from Departamento de Aeronautica Civil Sección de Estadística y Proyectos: Servicio Federal Aereo, April 16, 1929.

                              (7.) Archivo General de la Nación, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, caja 945 exped. 552.4/1, Fierro to Oresident Cárdenas, August 16, 1934.

                              (8.) Wendy Waters, “Remapping Identities: Road Construction and Nation Building in Postrevolutionary Mexico,” in The Eagle and the Virgin, eds. Mary K. Vaughan and Stephen Lewis (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 221–226.

                              (9.) By January 1934, sixteen companies were operating concessions spanning approximately 14,500 kilometers that covered much of the country. Workers for the national roads program had, by contrast, constructed closer to 10,000 kilometers of roads between 1925 and 1940, and had made only limited headway in the southern and northern parts of the country. See Enrique Cárdenas de la Peña, Historia de las comunicaciones y los transportes en México: El correro (Mexico City: Secretaría de Communicaciones y Transportes, 1987), 202–206; and Waters, “Remapping Identities,” 224.

                              (10.) Lars Denicke, “Fifty Years’ Progress in Five Brasilia: Modernization, Globalism, and the Geopolitics of Flight,” in Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Cold War, ed. Gabrielle Hecht (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), 191–192.

                              (11.) Archivo General de la Nación, SCT-DGAC, caja 55 exped. 1X/011/2-19794 (1929). Civil Aeronautics Act, ch. 6, arts. 43, 44, 47, 73, and 74.

                              (12.) Secretariat of Communications and Public Works, General Communications Law, vol. 4, ch. 3, art. 440 (Mexico City: Secretaría de Communicaciones y Obras Públicas, 1932), 152; and Jürgen Buchenau, Plutarco Elías Calles and the Mexican Revolution (Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007), 119.

                              (13.) Ruiz Romero, La aviación civil en México (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1999), 128; and Dan Hagerdorn, Conquistadors of the Sky: A History of Aviation in Latin America (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008), 229.

                              (14.) Ruiz Romero, La aviación civil en México, 128; Hagerdorn, Conquistadors of the Sky, 229; and José Ramón Buergo Troncosco, “Inicios del servicio postal aéreo en Mexico,” Quauhtli 1 (1999), 44–47.

                              (15.) Archivo General de la Nación, Obregon-Calles, exped. 711-A-8, sub-secretary of SCOP, to Fernando Torreblanca (Office of the President), October 8, 1928; Chicago mayor Hale Thompson to President Calles, October 1, 1928; Alfredo Calzado and Telesforo Macías (Nuevo Laredo National Chamber of Commerce) to President Calles, October 1, 1928; E. R. Brown (Dallas Chamber of Commerce) to President Calles, September 30, 1928; Matías de Llano (Mexican Products) President Calles, October 1, 1928; Manuel Zepeda (Border Motor & Cycle) to President Calles, September 29, 1928; Alonso Mancilla Mendiolea (Botica Mexico) President Calles; and Paul Richter (Civil Air Corps International) to President Calles, October 1, 1928.

                              (16.) Gomez, Breve historia de la aviación en México, 314–322; and Salvador Novo, Historia de la aviación en Mexico (Mexico City: Compañía Mexicana de Aviación, 1974), 76–81.

                              (17.) Ruiz Romero, La aviación civil en México, 118; Archivo General de la Nación, Ortíz-Rubio exped. 321 (1931) 4704, Abel Perez (Cía. De Transportes Aereos “Mexicano-Cuba” S.A.) to president Ortiz Rubio, July 6, 1931; exped. 321 (1931) 5604, sub-secretary of SCOP to the Quintana Roo National Chamber of Commerce, August 26, 1931; exped. 1932.8/2627, Abel Perex to Nicéforo Guerrero (Office of the President); exped. 1932. 8/3885, SCOP report, August 13, 1932.

                              (18.) Secretaría de Communicaciones y Obras Publicas, General Communications Law, vol. 4, ch. 3, art. 440 (Mexico City: Secretaría de Communicaciones y Obras Públicas, 1932), 152; and Gomez, Breve historia de la aviación en México, 316–318.

                              (19.) Cía. Mexicana de Aviación, advertisement, El Universal, December 7, 1929; Corporacion Aeronautica de Transportes S.A., advertisement, El Universal, December 9, 1929; “Hoy empieza la semana de aviacion,” El Universal, December 10, 1929; “Saltos en paracaídas,” El Universal, December 9, 1929; for film footage, see Filmoteca Nacional, Vicente Cortés Sotelo, La aviación Francia-Mexico (c. 1929).

                              (20.) Cía. Mexicana de Aviación, advertisement, El Universal, December 7, 1929; Corporacion Aeronautica de Transportes S.A., advertisement, El Universal, December 9, 1929; and “Hoy empieza la eemana de aviacion,” El Universal, December 10, 1929.

                              (21.) “Saltos en paracaídas,” El Universal, December 9, 1929.

                              (22.) “Saltos en paracaídas,” El Universal, December 9, 1929; “Empieza mañana la semana aerea,” El Universal, March 9, 1929; and “Hoy empieza la semana de aviacion,” El Universal, March 10, 1929.

                              (23.) “Lindbergh Flight Seen as Boosting Mexican Aviation,” Washington Post, December 12, 1927. For Carranza’s flight from Mexico City to Juarez, see Romero, Grandes vuelos en la aviación Mexicana, 83–89. Cárranza met, among others, Antonio Cárdenas Rodríguez, the future head of Escuadrón 201, and Carlos Riviosa, Pablo Sidar’s copilot during his fatal crash off the coast of Costa Rica.

                              (24.) Areil Jose Contreras, Mexico 1940: Industrializacion y crisis politica: Estado y sociedad civil en las elecciones presidenciales (Mexico City: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1977), 21–24; Stephen R. Niblo, Mexico in the 1940s: Modernity, Politics, and Corruption (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999), 82–85; Robert Blanco Moheno, Tata Lázaro: Vida, obra y muerte de Cárdenas, Múgica, y Carrillo Puerto (Tlacoquemécatl, Mexico: Editorial Diana, 1972), 251–254; Albert Michaels, “The Crisis of Cardenismo,” Journal of Latin American Studies 2.1 (1970): 51, 56; and Betty Kirk Davis, Covering the Mexican Front: The Battle of Europe vs. America (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942), 169–176.

                              (25.) Victor Niemeyer, Revolution at Querétaro: The Mexican Constitutional Convention of 1916–1917 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974), 60–61, 65–67, 71; Adolfo Gilly, La revolución interrumpida, 2d ed. (Mexico City: Ediciones El Caballito), 89–90; and Albert Michaels, The Mexican Election of 1940 (Buffalo: Council on International Studies State University of New York at Buffalo, 1971), 5.

                              (26.) Archivo General de la Nación, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, caja 598 exped. 511/7, presidential decree, March 28, 1935; and Gomez, Breve historia de la aviación en México, 322.

                              (27.) Blanco Moheno, Tata Lazaro, 251; Another example was Múgica’s dispute with transnational telephone companies. See Arturo Grunstein Dickter, “In the Shadow of Oil: Francisco J. Múgica vs. Transnational Corporations in Cárdenista Mexico,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 21.1 (2005): 17.

                              (28.) Fierro outlined his goals for the national aviation program in the Proyecto de Organización y Funcionamiento del Departamento Autónomo de Aeronautica, March 25, 1935, Archivo General de la Nación, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, caja 945 exped. 552.4/1.

                              (29.) Archivo General de la Nación, Ávila Camacho, caja 277 exped. 161.1/81, Manuel Ávila Camacho, Mensaje a la nación y otros discursos (Mexico City: Secretaría de Governación, 1943).

                              (30.) Hagedorn, Conquistadors of the Sky, 399–400; Archivo General de la Nación, Ávila Camacho, caja 850 exped. 552/5, governor Magdaleno Aguilar to president Ávila Camacho, October 21, 1943.

                              (31.) Hagedorn, Conquistadors of the Sky, 411–417.

                              (32.) Archivo General de la Nación, Ávila Camacho, caja 825 exped. 550/23, secretary of communications Maximino Ávila Camacho to president Ávila Camacho, April 26, 1943.

                              (33.) Tudor, “Flight of the Eagles,” 289.

                              (34.) Julie Moreno, Yankee Don’t Go Home! Mexican Nationalism, American Business Culture, and the Shaping of Modern Mexico, 1920–1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), 47; Dina Berger, The Development of Mexico’s Tourism Industry: Pyramids by Day, Martinis by Night (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 5, 72–73, 76; Archivo General de la Nación, Ávila Camacho, caja 549 exped. 511.6/42, Aerovias Braniff head of publicity Francisco Ochoa to secretary Jesús González Gallo, February 18, 1946; caja 548 exped. 511/6/11, Companía Mexicana de Aviación tourist brochure c. 1945; caja 549 exped. 511.6/30, secretary of communications Maximino Ávila Camacho to president Ávila Camacho, July 31, 1943; caja 179 exped. 135.2/36.

                              (35.) Ryan Alexander, Sons of the Mexican Revolution: Miguel Alemán and His Generation (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2016), 81–85.

                              (36.) Archivo General de la Nación, SCT-DGAC, caja 90 exped. 24/092.4/2-2–367791, press clipping, “Las obras del aeropuerto costarán cuarenta millones,” La Prensa, August 9, 1953.

                              (37.) Archivo General de la Nación, INVI, caja 15 exped. 16, report from civil aeronautics director Alberto Salinas Carranza, c. 1957; SCT–DGAC, caja 90 exped. 24/092.4/2–2–367790, press clipping “Importante programa para construcción de Aeropuertos,” La Prensa, April 15, 1953; exped. 24/092.4/2–2–367791, press clipping, “Creación de gran red de aeropuertos regionales,” La Presna, January 4, 1954; and Manuel Ruíz Romero, Aeropuertos: Historia de la construcción, operación y administración aeroportuaria en México (Mexico City: Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares, 2003), 66–67, 86.

                              (38.) Ejido communities had long been some of the most vocal opponents of the way the government and private interests handled expansion because it was often their land that was expropriated for the building of airports and airfields. For example, ejidatarios from Oaxaca and Chiapas repeatedly petitioned for government intervention during the 1950s in an effort to protect their livelihoods from expropriation or damage at the hands of construction crews. See Archivo General de la Nación, Alemán, caja 0441 exped. 511.1/1, telegram from Las Nubes, Chis. Ejidal Commission to President Alemán, January 15, 1949; Fondo Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, caja 641 exped. 511.1/37, report from sub-secretary of public works Luis Bracamontes to Oaxaca governor Jose Pacheco Iturribarría, April 5, 1956; Petition from San Agustin de la Juntas Ejidal Commission to president Ruiz Cortines, May 6, 1955; exped. 511.1/37, Manuel Díaz Castellanis and Herminio Díaz Hernández to president Ruiz Cortines, September 25, 1955; Antonio Gómez Palacios and Manuel José Gómez to president Ruiz Cortines, September 22, 1955; and Manuel José Gómez to president Ruiz Cortines, September 25, 1957.

                              (39.) Novo, Historia de la aviación en Mexico, 152, 154, 159, 164, 170, 172–174.

                              (40.) Novo, Historia de la aviación en Mexico, 39–40, 155, 187–188, 192–193.

                              (41.) Dawna L. Rhoades, “Aeromexico,” Salem Press Encyclopedia, January 2016.

                              (42.) Rosalía Vergara, “Mexicana: Los saldos de fraude,”, April 16, 2014; “What Goes up Must Come Down,”, August 5, 2010; “A Clumsy Giant Stumbles,”, August 12, 2010; Hugo Martín, “Mexicana Airlines Files for Bankruptcy,”, August 4, 2010; and “Anuncian nueva subasta de bienes de Mexicana de Aviación,”, January 27, 2016.

                              (43.) Thomas Hughes, “Technological Momentum,” in Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism, eds. Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994), 107–113. See also Hughes, “Technological Momentum in History,” Past and Present 44 (1969): 106–132.

                              (44.) For more on Mexico’s economic crisis, see Alan Knight, “The Weight of the State in Modern Mexico,” in Studies in the Formation of the Nation-State in Latin America, ed. James Dunkerley (London: Institute of Latin American Studies, 2002), 212–253.