An Inspirational Flight
“I too have seen the Andes from Above” Neil Armstrong’s hero makes record flight in a balloon.
Following the 1969 moon landing, the three American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edward “Buzz” Aldrin, began their triumphant tour around the world including a stop in Buenos Aires. As both Argentina and the US flags waved together in celebration at the Cancillería, Argentina´s Ministry of Foreign Relations, Neil Armstrong was antsy to conclude the promotional rally.
“Do you think this will end soon?” he asked Caceres Monié, the Federal Police Director. “But, why?” Moníe questioned surprisingly.
“We came to Argentina only to see the “Loco” and he goes to bed at 8 pm. We leave tomorrow at 7 am!” replied Collins.
Monié was stunned to learn that Armstrong’s request was to meet “Loco”, his one and only childhood hero.
Honoring this wish, Monié led the gentlemen across the plaza to a small humble apartment building. Soon after they found themselves having coffee with the Loco himself, Angel Maria Zuloga. Hanging from the living room wall was a bronze plaque from 1916 that read:
“I have a something profound to tell to the cosmos, they are not the only ones that have seen the Andes from above.”
It was 1916 when Argentine pilots Angel Maria Zuloaga and Eduardo Bradley, in the attempt to prove that a jet stream traveling from east to west existed. They embarked on the treacherous journey to cross the massive Andes Mountains in a hot air balloon. The balloon was named “Eduardo Newbery” in homage to the courageous Argentine pilot and their admirable friend. The Eduardo Newbery and crew launched from Santiago Chile, on a winter´s day, and endured temperatures below 30 Degrees F. Despite efforts, Zuloaga and Bradley could not get the balloon to rise above 21,000 ft. and sharp snowy peaks towering at 22,000 ft. were approaching. They would smash into Mt. Aconcagua or Mt. Tupungato if they did not ascend. The race to drop weight began. Out went the sand bags, out went the food bags, but still no ascent was noted. They discarded the revolvers and ammunition as sight of collision into the rock wall approached. In a last resort, they tossed the scientific equipment, telescopes, watches and anchors. Nothing. Finally they ditched their heavy coats, then the lighter ones. When they were about to strip the long underwear, a gust of wind lifted them barely passing over Aconcagua, safely clearing the tallest mountain of the Americas. With a crash landing in Uspallata, Mendoza, their 220 minute journey had been a success. The pilots sobbed in relief, holding each other until rescuers arrived. Argentina had new heroes and the department of aviation had a bright future.
A documentary film was made in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of this triumphant flight. The flight path, between Santiago,CL and Uspallata, AR is mapped here.
After the US astronauts met this South American lengend they returned to the USA, with a small token of gratitude from the generous Zuloga: 3 sets of engraved memorabilia of the historical flight Eduardo Newbury. Today, the small coffee cup, spoon and plate, can be found in the trophy room of the late “Space Capitan” Neil Armstrong.
Flying by plane over the Andes from Santiago (SCL) to Mendoza (MDZ) takes only 45 minutes and includes all of the same amazing views. Let us know when you’re ready to launch into your next inspirational adventure to our Andean wine country. Build It