Monday, December 1, 2014

ESPIRITU TICO - Famous Curtiss Robin of Costa Rica

Tico - a colloquial term for a native of Costa Rica. Costa Ricans are usually called ticos by themselves and persons of other Spanish-speaking countries, in place of the more formal costarricenses.  The name is short for Hermanitico ('Little Brother'), a friendly and respectful way the people of Costa Rica used in the past (during the Central American war against William Walker) to refer to themselves.  (from Wikipedia)

Such is the name given to one particular Curtiss Robin in 1933 by a small cultural neighborhood community of Costa Rican's of the greater San Francisco area.

The story begins with a fatherless native Costa Rican boy who was brought to San Francisco at a very young age by his mother who sought to provide a better life for her son.  Don Román Macaya Lahmann was born in San Jose in 1903 , in the home formed by Juan Ibáñez and Angela Macaya Lahmann Carazo, his maternal grandparents were Frederick Wendt Lahmann and Paulina Carazo Peralta.

As he matured, the young Macaya became interested in flying and eventually earned his pilot's license and studied aviation. Due to the economic crisis in America, in 1933 decided to return to his native country.  He chose to purchase a Curtiss Robin airplane model C-1, NC911K, with which he planned to bring aviation into Costa Rica.  As he prepared for the long journey, his local neighbors blessed the airplane and prayed over his flight.  They christened his plane with the suggestive name of " The Tico Spirit " , emulating the feat in 1927 did Charles Lindbergh to cross the Atlantic in the famous " Spirit of St. Louis " 

Roman Macaya prepares to leave California in his Challenger powered Curtiss Robin.
Roman began his flight from Oakland, California, and eventually landing in his home country of Costa Rica on October 5, 1933.  The trip was risky at best for the time of year.  Plagued along the way with bad weather, Macaya could not land at the airport in La Sabana.  Instead, he followed towards Limon where he fueled.  Finally reaching the destination airport, he was receivedby more than 30 thousand people as a hero.  They paraded him along the Paseo Colon.  Macaya was invited into the presidential palace, where he was welcomed by Don Ricardo Jiménez Oreamun. 

The Curtiss Robin was the first of many airplanes that  Macaya eventually brought to pioneer a new way of life for his homeland through aviation.  He used them to deliver mail and supplies across the mountains from the east coast to the west and return.  He established airplanes as a viable mode of transportation, which changed commerce and the way of life for the nation.  For this successful venture that resulted in the country's first commercial airline, among other aviation services, Roman Macaya is remembered as a national Hero. 

Macaya brought several Curtiss Kingbird airplanes to Costa Rica for his Airline venture.


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