Captain Emilio Carranza was known as the Lindbergh of Mexico for his
flying skills and daring. His Goodwill Tour to Washington, DC and
New York City began on June 10, 1928 when he was cleared for flying
by the Technical Commission and took off in his "Mexico-Excelsior"
monoplane from Balbuena airport.
progress was tracked through dedicated telegraph lines installed by
the Mexican Civil Aviation Department. According to Carranza's
biography, a valve spring in one of the cylinders failed causing a
loss of altitude. A ship sailing toward New Orleans reported the
"Mexico-Excelsior" flying very low and fast. Before he could land
near Galveston, TX., the valve started working again.
At 1:45 am pm June 11, 1928, the "Mexico-Excelsior"
flew low over Spartanburg, SC.
northeast along the airmail route, he became lost in fog between the
Salisbury and Mooresville postal beacons. Carranza flew low over the
area to get his bearings and circled the town several times.
Fletcher Shinn, caretaker of the beacon and field, heard the plane
circling and saw it headed toward Mooresville.
Alan Sloan, on his way home from a late house call, noticed the
sound of a plane flying low over the town and recognized that the
pilot was in distress. Sloan and Policeman Earl Rimmer led a group
of citizens and Southern Railway brakemen to Prospect Field to help
the pilot. Shinn was waiting with a red flare and joined the group
to form a makeshift runway with their car headlights.
Carranza landed safely at 3:45am, kissed the ground and rode with
Dr. Sloan to the depot to send telegrams to Mexican officials and
his family before checking into the Central Hotel. After some rest
and breakfast, Carranza was welcomed officially by D. E. Turner,
president of the Chamber of Commerce, and took off for Washington at
1:50pm. Carranza completed his trip to Washington and toured New
York for a month. During his return trip to Mexico, he was killed
when his plane crashed in the Piney Wood section of New Jersey.
Honored as a hero, his body was returned to Mexico in a US Army
train. The Mooresville beacon was removed in 1948 when new
technology made the beacon system obsolete. The only thing left is
the marker installed by the Geodetic Survey.