Few have gone from triumph to tragedy as quickly as did two Spanish fliers who set a long-distance trans-Atlantic record when they flew from Spain to Cuba.

A few days later both were dead as the result of a mysterious crash on a flight that began in Havana and was supposed to end in Mexico City.


Syracuse Journal, June 10
Spanish fliers headed for Cuba
SEVILLE, Spain (INS) — Two Spanish aviators, one of whom played a leading part in the abortive revolt against King Alfonso which preceded formation of the Spanish republic, were believed speeding over the Atlantic today on a non-stop flight to Cuba.

They were Captain Mariano Barberan and Lieut. Joaquin Collar of the Spanish army, who left Seville today at 12:45 p.m. EDT, bound for Havana and Mexico City.

Lieutenant Collar was one of the Spanish airmen who followed Commander Ramon Franco, noted Spanish flier and adventurer, in an uprising against the monarchy at Cuatro Vientos air field near Madrid in December, 1930.

The rebellion collapsed and the ringleaders fled to Portugal. Lieutenant Collar turned up the following month in London, but due to his revolutionary activities, the British government deported him. He dropped out of sight until another revolution deposed the Bourbon dynasty and then returned to Spain.

Barberan and Collar planned to fly the direct route to Havana over the so-called “great circle” course, a distance of 4,606 miles. This route will take them over Fayal in the Azores.


Syracuse Journal, June 12
Short of goal, Spanish fliers still
manage to set cross-ocean record

CAMAGUEY, Cuba (Universal) — Two dashing Spanish army air voyagers sped a tiny vest-pocket monoplane in from the Atlantic and put it down on the Pan-American Airways field here yesterday, thereby writing a new chapter in aviation history by completing the longest cross-ocean flight yet attempted.

When Captain Mariano Barberan and Lieut. Joaquin Collar dropped their Cuatro Vientos (“Four Winds”) to a perfect three-point landing at 4:40 p.m., EDT, they were 39 hours and 55 minutes out of Tablada Airport, Seville. They had flown 4,043 miles of almost trackless sea.

A waning fuel supply forced them to halt 300 miles short of their goal, Havana. From Havana, where they plan to fly today, they will hop to Mexico City.


Syracuse Journal, June 21
Barberan and Collar missing
MEXICO CITY (INS) — President Abelardo Rodriguez took personal charge today of search for the missing Spanish trans-Atlantic fliers Capt. Mariano Barberan and Lieut. Joaquin Collar, who started out yesterday morning on a flight from Havana, Cuba, to this city.

Their plane, the Cuatro Vientos, was sighted yesterday at various points over Mexico, but later they dropped from view. An alarming reports was received last night that the plane had crashed against a mountain peak in the state of Puebla, known as Malinche.

As soon as this report was received at the presidency, President Rodriguez ordered every military plane out of Valbuena Field to comb the area between Villa Hermosa, Tabasco and Mexico City. Thirty planes will be engaged.

Another squadron took off for the Sierras in the state of Puebla to investigate the Malinche crash report, while still another squadron was sent to cruise over the state of Mexico.


Syracuse American, July 16
Wreckage of Spanish plane
found in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (INS) — A tire tube found a few days ago in the state of Tabasco “undoubtedly comes from the wreckage of the monoplane Cuatro Vientos,” said the Spanish ambassador in a statement given out by the foreign office today.

The Cuatro Vientos was the plane in which the Spanish trans-Atlantic fliers, Capt. Mariano Barberan and Lieut. Joaquin Collar, lost their lives flying from Havana, Cuba, to Mexico City, after crossing the Atlantic from Spain.

The inner tube was found on the shoreline of the State of Tabasco off the Chiltepec Bar, and identification was made by an airplane mechanic, Modesto Madariaga.

Confirmation of the identification was made by Foreign Minister Puig Casauranc. The tube was found by a native of the state named Luciano Mezquita.

The official statement of the foreign office said:

“The Cuatro Vientos indisputably fell into the sea near Port Alvaro Obregon. Further search will be made to find out more about the disaster.”


One result of the crash was a series of conflicting stories. The first report had the Cuatro Vientos crashing into a mountain near Villahermosa. One Associated Press story was very specific, locating the crash site on "the slopes of La Malinche Mountain." Initial reports had Capt. Barberan surviving the crash, but seriously injured.

Days later the crash site was listed as a swamp, but then there was a report the plane and the bodies had been found on a mountainside. The man who claimed to have found the plane was arrested for making a false report. Finally, and perhaps most accurately, it was decided the plane went into the Gulf of Mexico.

Rarely mentioned during coverage of the tragedy was the fact Sgt. Modesto Madariaga, the plane's mechanic, had flown across the Atlantic with Barberan and Collar, but remained in Havana when the two men took off for Mexico.

To this day the bodies and the wreckage of the Cuatro Vientos have not been found.