Mexico's "Charles Lindbergh," A Little Known New Jersey Connection

Many Americans are unaware of the connection between New Jersey and Mexico's "Charles Lindbergh." A visit to Wharton State Park reveals the legendary story of Emilio Carranza, the 22-year-old pilot who crashed there in 1928.

Hidden within the pines and vast natural areas of Wharton State Forest is a stone monument honoring the site where Mexican Air Force Capt. Emilio Carranza, 22, died when his aircraft crashed on the evening of July 12, 1928, as he was attempting to return to Mexico from New York City after successfully completing a good will trip.

An accomplished flier, Carranza is often referred to as "The Lindbergh of Mexico." And like Lindbergh, who made historic non-stop flights from New York to Paris and New York to Mexico City, Carranza held the record for the third longest non-stop solo flight - 1,875 miles between San Diego, Ca., and Mexico City on May 25, 1928.

His journey to the United States began on June 11, when he departed from Mexico bound for Washington D.C. Ultimately, he arrived in New York City to a hero's welcome. On the night of the crash, Carranza received a telegram ordering his immediate return. Despite warnings of potentially severe weather in the area, he departed from Roosevelt Airport in New York City shortly before 7:30 pm and headed toward Mexico. The rest is a little known Pinelands legend.

The monument in Wharton State Park marks the location where his body was found the next day. Many who visit the park to hike or bike in its wilderness are unaware of the monument or its significance. But, Carranza's memory is not forgotten. Each year American Legion Post 11, Mount Holly, holds a 1pm public memorial service at the crash site on the Saturday closest to July 12. The monument is located off Carranza Rd. (Rt. 648), which leads to the entrance of Wharton State Forest in Tabernacle.