His Spirit Arrives Thru The Air

By Juan Reyna Tapia, JD, PhD

AJO, ARIZONA, 15 April 1928.

Beneath a blue sky and a scorching sun, a boy was playing on a dust bone-dry patch of ground called a "front-yard". One of those children burned by the intense heat, a product of self-exiled parents from Mexico who persist in living in mining towns located in the center of an inferno known as desert country.

The game that this child played was completely imaginative, without rhyme or reason, and unending in its design in as much as he owned no toy.

From time to time he would interrupt his activities to remain immoble and thoughtful as if imagining something without knowing in what form it would appear. Then he would assume a posture similar to that which dogs take when their ears and hair stand up in order to better understand an inexplicable and superhuman sensation. The child assumed this attitude day after day. It was an obsession which cost him many a whipping because he would not answer when his parents shouted at him to get out of the sun.

"That boy is going deaf!", they would say in desperation. "We'll have to treat his ears with an herb to cure them!"

Nevertheless, the child continued his vigil day after day, until, on this day, he suddenly ceased all his activities, and, tilting his head, he began to hear a barely audible rumor in the sky. With wide-open eyes he frantically searched for the object which caused a shudder of excitement to course through his being.

Finally he noticed something like a spot which traversed across the horizon emitting an incoherent and unsynchronized sound.

The spot appeared to travel nearer and nearer to the horizon until finally, with a last gasp, like a suffocating person, it crashed to the ground creating a dust cloud which quickly rose and obscured the sun itself.

Frightened and paralyzed the child appeared helpless to do no more than witness the agonizing flight of the spot which ended by losing its battle against the gravity of the earth. He remained in this manner looking at the dust which arose like the hand of a drowning person who is going under for the third time. Then, as if awakening from a horrible nightmare, the child began to scream:

"Mam'a, Papa', Mamao, Papa'!"
"Oye'viejo', go see what is happening to the child.
I hope that he hasn't been stung by another scorpion or centipede. That mischievous boy gets into everything!"
"What's the matter muchacho'?"

The child would point excitedly toward the horizon and shout,
"Over there, over there, a big bird fell!"
"Don't give me that! Calm yourself! What's the matter with you?"
"A big bird fell, a big bird fell!"
And he continued pointing excitedly in the direction in which the spot had disappeared.

"Oye, 'vieja', do you know what the child says?
I think that he is sun-struck. He says that a big bird fell. Do you see anything?"

"The only thing I see is what appears to be a dust-storm. Nothing else."
"No dust-storm, no dust-storm, a big bird, a big bird!" Insisted the child pointing toward where the dust of the desert could be seen rising into the sky. "It fell over there, it fell over there!"

tisay,'vieja', could it be possible that the child means that he saw a meteor fall?"

"I think that the child has meteors in his eyes from playing too much in the sun. Tell him to come inside."

"Do you know what? I think the child did see something fall because the dust does not seem to be made by a whirlwind. Call 'G'Uero' so that he can take us in the car to see what it is."

In these mining towns any phenomenon served as an excuse to take people out of the their rutinary lives, and it wasn't difficult to gather a few curiosity seekers willing to risk the hazards of the desert infemo in order to witness a new spectacle. Getting into the car they left rapidly in the direction of the area where the dust could still be seen, mixed with the rising heat waves of a burning day. After they had travelled for some time the father gave an alarming shout: "That's not a meteor, it is an airplane that has crashed! Hurry'G'U'ero','we have to get there beofre it begins to burn! It is possible that someone may be trapped inside.!"

The car left a dirt road and entered into the heart of the desert terrain bouncing and bouncing at the risk of ejecting all of its occupants. They took a course directly toward where the airplane was clearly visible with the tail elevated and the nose thrust into the ground like a giant riietallic scorpion. Alighting from the car they approached the airplane fearing to find someone seriously injured. The child then began to shout: "There's a man, there's a man!" But the others saw no one. The plane was abandoned. The child advanced to where he thought he saw someone and placed himself in the shade beneath one side of wing. "He isn't here anymore."

It was then learned that the intrepid pilot was Captain Emilio Carranza of the Mexican Air Force who was enroute to San Diego to inspect the progress of the construction of the airplane named "Excelsior-Mexico", with which he intended to make a reciprocal flight to Washington, D. C. to Mexico City.

Captain Carranza was found wandering in the desert and taken to the nearby town of Ajo, Arizona, where he telephoned San Diego from the office of the Ajo Improvement Company of the New Cornelia Copper Company, later becoming Phelps Dodge Corporation. That office is now a business: "Si Como No.

Emilio Carranza was already well-known by the towns people for his courage and quick-thinking as a pilot, such as the time when his engine caught fire and he flew into a storm to extinguish it. Ignacio "Ni'no" Carrera, who had seen the plane before it crashed, and Luis Rios, asked him if they could celebrate his presence with a "fiesta". Carranza said that they were coming for him from San Diego, and subsequently left that day.

Thus, on a sultry Arizona day, the hand of the mother country touched the spirit and heart of its former inhabitants by means of its eternal hero Captain Emilio Carranza Rodriguez. Afterwards the child forgot his celestial vigil, but would often say: "Someday I am going to be as "valiente" as Emilio Carranza!"

Three months later the sad news of his death when his plane crashed in New Jersey while flying back to Mexico, came floating through an air heavy with tears, and countless villages were shrouded in mourning. For many days, thereafter, the sad ballad to his memory was sung extolling his courage and
his voyage of peace.

Emilio Carranza's spirit, courage and love of flight, still lives on in those of his lineage, epitomized by American Captain Ismael "Mel" Carranza, a Continental Airlines 747 pilot captain, who organized a volunteer crew and piloted a plane to Mexico City to deliver vital emergency supplies during the 1985 devastating earthquake.