“A Signal”

Father of Cuban Aviation

On May 17, 1913, Domingo Rosillo and Agustín Parlá attempted the first international flights to Latin America, by trying to fly their airplanes from Key West to Havana. At 5:10 a.m., Rosillo departed from Key West and flew for 2 hours, 30 minutes and 40 seconds before running out of gas. He had planned to land at the airfield at Camp Columbia in Havana, but instead managed to squeak in at the camp’s shooting range, thereby still satisfactorily completing the flight.

Parlá left Key West at 5:57 in the morning. Just four minutes later, at 6:01 a.m., he had to carefully turn back to the airstrip he had just left, since the aircraft didn’t properly respond to his controls. Parlá said, “It would not let me compensate for the wind that blew.” When he returned to Key West, he discovered that two of the tension wires to the aircraft’s elevators were broken.

Two days later, Parlá tried again and left Key West, carrying the Cuban Flag his father had received from José Martí. This time he fell short and had to land at sea off the Cuban coast near Mariel. Sailors from the Cuban Navy rescued him from his seaplane.

Being adventuresome, while attending the Curtiss School of Aviation in 1916, Parlá flew over Niagara Falls. In his honor, the Cuban flag was hoisted and the Cuban national anthem was played. The famous Cuban composer, pianist, and bandleader, Antonio M. Romeu, composed a song in his honor named “Parlá over the Niagara” and Agustín Parlá became known as the “Father of Cuban Aviation.”


Captain Hank Bracker, is the author of the multi-award winning book “The Exciting Story of Cuba.” He tells the history of the Island Nation in a way that is exciting and easy to understand. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, BooksAMillion.com and many Independent Book Stores.