822.248/157

The Minister in Ecuador ( Long ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1652

Sir: I have the honor to condense in this despatch the essential points covered in personal letters to Mr. Welles dated February 21 and 225 and to Mr. Bonsal dated February 24.6

[Page 259]

Colonel W. K. Burgess, Chief of our Air Mission here,7 delivered his report to the Assistant Secretary for National Defense before mid-day on Saturday, February 22.

It contains recommendations for the present, as well as the future, but this report deals merely with urgent items.

Ecuadoran aviators, grounded since the Fall of 1939, have no planes in which to fly. Last Spring, after General Dargue8 and Colonel Brady9 visited Ecuador, this Government sent five old basic trainer engines to Patterson for overhaul. These engines, presumably in perfect condition, returned to Guayaquil on February 23. Colonel Burgess’s report contains a statement that if a few mechanics can be borrowed from the Canal Zone they should be able to recondition some of the airplanes and fit the BT engines therein so that basic trainers might be available for refresher service for a few Ecuadoran pilots. Major Paez, Chief of the Ecuadoran Army Air Corps, has, through Colonel Burgess, requested the loan of the mechanics from Panama, offering to pay their board and keep during their sojourn in this country, presumably at Guayaquil.

Colonel Burgess likewise recommends the repair of six primary trainers, the engines for which have already been sent to Patterson, N. J. for overhaul. Presumably this will require about four months. Meanwhile, it will be necessary to order spare parts to fix up the planes—also some material for a repair shop, the total cost, after considerable revision downward (for necessary items), to keep the old planes, once re-habilitated, going for about a year or a year and a half, will be $57,000.

Guayaquil, where training was formerly given, has been the scene of many disasters—due, in large part, to a lack of emergency landing places. For physiological and other reasons, Colonel Burgess has recommended that primary aviation training be given at Salinas; advanced training at Quito. This means that two small training schools will need to be constructed. Colonel Burgess’s report included the plans. The estimated cost of the school for Salinas is roughly $12,000; that for Quito about $18,000. Both, according to the figures he has received, can be finished for approximately $30,000.

Taking the item given above for reconditioning old planes of $57,000; add to it $30,000, and the result is $87,000. It is respectfully suggested the Air Mission have made available to it at least $100,000 pending the arrangement of a larger credit which presumably [Page 260] will be the subject of discussion between the two Governments and consequently may be delayed for some time.

It is presumed that upon receipt of information to the effect that this credit will become available, Colonel Burgess could immediately begin construction of the plants at Salinas and Quito. The moral effect of seeing work started, added to the ability of Ecuadoran aviators to fly, as they can do in the very near future if we lend mechanics to help fix up the planes, will produce an excellent effect in this country.

The Panagra13 plane which left here this morning carried an air express package addressed to Colonel A. E. Harris, G–2, War Department, containing the exhibits to Colonel Burgess’s plan, carbon copies of which, along with two letters from Colonel Burgess to Colonel Harris, went air mail. Thus, the Foreign Relations Section of the War Department should be in possession of a copy of Colonel Burgess’s report, also his request for a loan of the mechanics and his recommendation that provisional credit be granted.

I concur in the advisability of quickly arranging such a credit and of doing anything else, within the power of our Government, to facilitate accomplishments for its Air Mission in Ecuador.

Respectfully yours,

Boaz Long
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not printed; Philip W. Bonsal was Acting Chief of the Division of the American Republics.
  3. An agreement between the United States and Ecuador for a military aviation mission was signed on December 12, 1940; Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 189, or 54 Stat. (pt. 2) 2437.
  4. Brig. Gen. H. A. Dargue of the Air Corps.
  5. Lt. Col. Francis M. Brady.
  6. Pan American-Grace Airways.