Mazatlán: the first Aerial bombed city in the Americas


The beautiful port survived the Revolution

The first time the Mazatlecos saw an airplane, it brought them constitutionalist propaganda during the Mexican Revolution. The “metallic bird” flew over the harbor and launched the pamphlets that were received with astonishment and joy by the population.
But the second time the sky of Mazatlan had one of those “flying machines” as a companion, the result was terrifying: a loud explosion brought screams and … death.
On May 6, 1914, an aerial bomb touched American soil for the first time and for the misfortune of the Mazatlecos was in its beautiful port.
Those who are from Mazatlan have probably heard the story before, it is a story that has been passed down from generation to generation, something that is not forgotten because of its historical relevance, since it was not only the first aerial bomb launched in America but only the second in the world , after the one launched in Tripoli, Libya, during the Italo-Turkish war in 1911.
Airplanes were a revolutionary invention, especially when used for military purposes, first as exploration elements and then as weapons, so during the Mexican Revolution the constitutional army did not stay behind and in April 1913, General Álvaro Obregón, who was head of the Carrancista forces in the northwest, ordered to buy an airplane in Los Angeles, for which Constitutionalist supporters paid around $ 5,000, according to a publication in El Imparcial newspaper that year.
The biplane, which was named “Sonora” because it was where it was assembled, immediately raised the combat spirit of the rebel forces in the region; with him, the constitutionalists surpassed the federal ones in airspace domain. His first flight consisted of espionage activities and then he began distributing aerial propaganda, something that had never been seen before.
So in 1914, the Mazatlecos who lived practically imprisoned in their own port, since it was under siege by the Constitutionalists, under the command of Generals Angel Flores and Juan Carrasco, received the visit of the “Sonora” with emotion, impacted by their technology.
According to chroniclers, entire families left their homes to see their evolutions and try to obtain propaganda leaflets, while the police were engaged in confiscating the falling papers.
On May 6, the mission of “Sonora” was a completely different one. Shortly after 8:00 am the biplane took flight with the intention of bombing Fort Rosales, located on the top of the Cerro de la Nevería. The plane, piloted by Captain Gustavo Salinas, had on board two rudimentary dynamite bombs, coal, steel cuttings and nails wrapped in wet pigskin, which when dry provided the necessary consistency for the explosion.
However, during a maneuver, the biplane was shaken and the compiled Teodoro Madariaga, who was responsible for throwing the bombs, released one of them earlier than expected, thus impacting a civil area between now Carranza streets and Carnival.
According to a local portal, chroniclers collected the testimony of a child who witnessed the bombing:
“He said that while playing in the streets near the scene, they saw that a black package fell from the airplane flying over the city. They thought it was a propaganda bulge in favor of the Revolution and they ran to the place where they thought it would fall. That was how they heard the rumble and saw the bodies of the people who killed the explosion, “ says an article published on the Friends of Mazatlan page.
In the tragic incident, four people died and there were multiple injuries, mostly elderly people, women, and children. In his missions, the “Sonora”, also bombarded two naval guns causing several casualties to the Huerta army, but in the middle of that same month he suffered a landing when he landed and was destroyed, marking the end of the “Northeastern Corps Aerial Flotilla”.
It is said that it is “a pride to be from Mazatlan”; however, in this case being the first is not a reason for celebration. The beautiful port survived the Revolution and went down in history, among many other reasons, for this sad episode, which some have preferred to forget, others to preserve.