May 29, 1936
MANILA, May 29 – On May 29, 1936, the historic "Arnacal Flight" of two Filipino pilots — Antonio Arnaiz and Juan Calvo — left Manila and reached Spain on July 11.
Arnáiz and Calvo took off at dawn aboard a Fairchild 24 plane named "Commonwealth of the Philippines."
They arrived in Hong Kong late in the afternoon, having braved poor weather conditions (and lacking radio equipment) to become the first Filipino pilots to cross the China Sea.
In Hong Kong, they were greeted enthusiastically by prominent members of the Filipino community (including Antonio's brother Don Ricardo Arnáiz) and also by a number of Americans and Britons.
The two Filipino pilots finally arrived in Barcelona, Spain on July 11 of the same year.
The mayor of Barcelona presented Arnáiz and Calvo keys to the city and welcomed them with a banquet at the mayoral palace.
From Barcelona, they took off for Madrid and arrived at 5 p.m., completing their historic journey and first-ever goodwill flight by Philippine aviators, dubbed the "Arnacal Flight."
Earlier, Calvo, a salesman for the Manila Trading and Supply Co., enrolled in flight training at the Valeriano School of Aviation. He approached Arnaiz, his instructor, with an idea for a Manila-Madrid flight which he had conceived several years back.
Such an idea was inspired by the historic Madrid-Manila flight in December 1924 of Captains Joaquín Lóriga y Taboada and Eduardo Gallarza y González of the Spanish Royal Flying Corps.
Arnáiz, a young but capable pilot who had trained at the Dallas Aviation School in the United States, belonged to a prominent clan from Bais, Negros Oriental. He was able to obtain from his family and friends the fund needed to purchase a Fairchild 24 plane which he christened "Commonwealth of the Philippines" and used in the so-called Arnacal Flight. (PNA) scs/SDT/jsd