On the 7th October 1930 at 6.32 and five seconds, the Breguet XIX plane, number 71, tpe Gran Raid, piloted by Lieutenant De Haya and with Squadron Leader Captain Rodriguez as observer, took off from the runway of the Tablada aerodrome after taxiing 800 metres. The fuel tanks were full. It had 360 litres of oil and 500 litres of water. After twenty minutes flying it reached the scheduled height of 1,500 metres and over the vertical of the Tablada aerodrome the two men initiated the first stage of the long circuit.
The chronometer readings were highly satisfactory showing a first lap speed of 182 km/h, but they had anticipated such speed as being sufficient for the first hour of flight and any attempt to exceed this would have compromised the subsequent flying hours of the engine. On the second lap the average speed reached 192 km/h and in the successive laps the speedometer registered 197, 200, 211, 214 and having thus broken the record it was convenient to maintain it constant so as not to increase engine fatigue.
By 5 o’clock in the afternoon they had completed the eighth lap of the 250 km circuit and at that moment they switched to the shorter 105 km circuit. They had been in the air for fourteen hours – it was around 8 o’clock in the evening – when, with the engine now less strained, the throttle was pulled out for a single lap and they attained the speed of 234 km/h.
By that time, Tablada aerodrome had taken measures in case the aviators had to make a landing by night but Haya and his companion dropped a message over the aerodrome informing the authorities that all was well and that they would continue the flight until the fuel ran out.
As has been mentioned, Captain Rodriguez Díaz was acting as observer, even though he was a highly adept pilot himself and on a number of occasions took over the controls of the plane so that Lieutenant De Haya could revive the circulation in his limbs, numbed by such a long period of immobility. However, his main mission was to make on-going calculations of the plane’s speed in relation to the ground, the average speed reached during the flight and, on the basis of these calculations, to advise Lieutenant De Haya on the most appropriate engine system in order to obtain the best performance.
Until 4 o’clock in the morning on the 8th October – when they had been in the air for twenty two hours – the flight had been proceeding as usual without incident of any note, but from that moment onwards the sky began to cloud over and immediately a thick fog came down over the most of the circuit. The navigation had to be effected without visibility, but both Captain Rodriguez and Lieutenant De Haya were experts in this system. Rodriguez worked out the headings and the turns on each vertex of the circuit, according to the flying time and speed. However, as a precaution, they flew in a concentric-exterior pattern in relation to the real circuit and consequently the official controlled speed was slightly lower.
The commissioners responsible for the timing the flight at each of the vertices understood the reason behind this manoeuvre and remained alert to the periodic passing overhead of the plane. Utrera was the only circuit vertex that was still visible and this enabled Captain Rodriguez to rectify the minor navigation errors. But the fog thickened, threatening to engulf the entire circuit and if this were to happen all ground reference would be lost, making it impossible to stick to the route and consequently the flight would have been a wasted effort as it would not have been certified. Nevertheless, the pilots managed to stay on the short circuit route, completing lap number 30.
At 7.32 am on the 8th October they landed safely at Tablada aerodrome, after having remained airborne for twenty five hours and sixteen minutes.
In the aerodrome a committee from the Aero Club was waiting for the aviators and this, along with the two pilots’ other companions who were based there, gave them an enthusiastic welcome. They thought that Captain Rodriguez and Lieutenant De Haya would emerge from the plane in a state of exhaustion and would need to rest immediately. But there was surprise all round when the two men climbed down from the plane looking fresh and in high spirits for the triumph achieved, without the slightest sign of fatigue and anxious only to light up a cigarette, for during the long hours of flight they had been obliged to refrain from smoking. Highly satisfied with the result of the test and with the performance of the plane and the engine, they could only think of the possibilities of trying for a new record.
That same day, the 8th October, after a brief rest, they gave the plane another check, assisted by their loyal mechanic Casiano Ferrer, focusing on the engine in particular and the plane in general. The following day they cleaned the valves and made a few adjustments aimed mainly at leaving it in a state of readiness to take on the new record attempt they had had decided to go for.
The date chosen for the second feat was the 11th October. The objective this time around was to beat the speed record in a closed circuit over a distance of 2,000 km carrying a useful load of 500 kg, a record that had been established by the French pilots Paul Codes and Dieydionée Costes, on the 17th January of that same year, travelling at an average speed of 214.533 km/h in a Breguet Superbidon plane.
Again, they took off from the Tablada aerodrome at 6.58 and 22 seconds. In the fuel tanks they were carrying a total of 1,500 litres, 140 of oil and 500 litres of unusable water, which made up the commercial load.
For this occasion they chose the short circuit composed by the triangle whose vertices were the towns of Seville, Carmona and Utrera, which they regarded as being more suitable for the distance to be covered. Shortly after initiating the flight came the arrival of the wind, a fearsome enemy in closed circuits if it maintains a constant direction since those stages when it blows in your favour do not compensate the setbacks caused by it in those stages when it is adverse.
Captain Rodriguez immediately detected the presence of wind and made it is job to advise Lietenant De Haya on what engine system was necessary to counteract the effects of the wind. They flew at an average height of 750 metres with the engine running at full capacity on many occasions when it was required to yield maximum power. The speed in relation to the air was close to 240 km/h but the aviators were not disheartened as the record set by Costes and Codos was 214 km/h, which had been amply surpassed.
As midday approached, it stopped raining and the visibility improved, but the wind remained although the flight continued in a regular manner, similar to the previous one.
At 4.42 pm they landed safely after having completed 19 laps of the circuit, reaching an average speed over these 2,000 km of 220 km/h, as they had planned. It took them nine hours, forty three minutes and thirty eight seconds.
This record was to remain unbeaten until 7th September 1933 when a new one was set by the Frenchmen Doret, Terrason and Lazarme, in Villacoublay (France) aboard a triple engine Dewoitine, with Hispano Suiza 575 CV engines, attaining an average speed of 255.253 km/h.
These record-breaking flights demonstrated that with planes made in Spain, in a space of only twenty four hours, flights of military reconnaissance could be made at a distance of 2,500 km from our bases and that a squadron could rapidly transport tons of explosives for a bombing operation 1,000 km away from any of our aerodromes.
We have not been able to find the International Aeronautical Federation (IAF) certificate accrediting the authority of this body but instead we do have in our possession a document dated 24th November 1930 signed by the acting head of Aviation at that time and addressed to the Higher Command of the Getafe Service in which we find evidence of the official recognition by the IAF of the certification of the following records achieved by Squadron leader Captain Cipriano Rodriguez Diaz and flying officer Lieutenant Carlos De Haya Gonzalez:
- Speed registered over a distance of 5,000 km (Spain). Achieved in a Breguet plane, with a Hispano Suiza 600 HP engine over the Seville-Utrera-Carmona circuit, on the 7th and 8th October 1930 (208.153 km/h).
- Speed registered over a distance of 2,000 km with a useful load on board of 500 kg (Spain) in a Breguet plane with a Hispano Suiza 600 HP engine. At the Tablada aerodrome in Seville on 11th October 1930 (220.428 km/h).
- Speed registered over a distance of 2,000 km (carrying no load). (220.428 km/h) (appendiz number 10).
A new record was added with the official recognition of the IAF, as they had also broken the record for flying over a distance of 2,000 km in a closed circuit, without load, in accordance with article 93 of the Sports Regulations of that Federation, which up till then was in the possession of the Frenchman, F. Lasne, who established it on the 12th September 1925 in a Nieuport plane with a Hispano Suiza 500 CV engine, travelling at an average speed of 218.759 km/h.