This Week’s Country Highlight – Chile Chile is a long, narrow country stretching along South America’s western edge, with more than 6,000km of Pacific Ocean coastline. Santiago, its capital, sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains. The city’s palm-lined Plaza de Armas contains the neoclassical cathedral and the National History Museum.
Chile is considered one of the planet’s most diverse landscapes; hence, it is considered a popular destination for trekking, hiking, climbing, river rafting, among other adventurous activities. Chile also has multiple cultural attractions such us fine museums, art galleries and the stunning Easter Island with its famous stone figures.
Roberto Parragué Singer (1913-1995) was born in Santiago, Chile. He was a pilot in the Chilean Air Force with a vision. He wanted to see the opening of a new air route across the Pacific and saw Easter Island as an obvious staging post 2300 miles from Santiago with another 2500 miles to Tahiti. Roberto Parragué Singer (1913-1995) was born in Santiago, Chile. He was a pilot in the Chilean Air Force with a vision. He wanted to see the opening of a new air route across the Pacific and saw Easter Island as an obvious staging post 2300 miles from Santiago with another 2500 miles to Tahiti.
Roberto Parragué Singer not only dreamed of an air route but was determined to fly it himself. He was a Catalina amphibious aircraft pilot and repeatedly asked for permission to make a proving flight to Easter Island. His specialty was in long distance navigation and had organized the celestial navigation school in the Chilean Air Force. In 1937, he presented to his superiors a project to fly to Easter Island, which was rejected because it was considered technically impossible to carry out due to the fact that there was not a plane with sufficient autonomy for such a journey. Not being intimidated, and before the acquisition in 1950, Parragué had finally obtained the approval of the Chilean President, Gonzales Videla, for his own flight to Easter Island and made ready with a Catalina PBY-5A amphibian at the post of La Serena. He called the plane Manutara, which means bird of good luck. It was agreed that the starting point would be the La Serena airport, the hometown of the Chilean president. The Manutara landed on the island at 2:42 p.m. on January 20 , after 19 hours and 22 minutes of flight, being joyously received by the islanders and fellow nationals.
The Manutara became the first plane ever to land on the island. He made a total of 4 trips to the island, in which his last trip was made in 1965. In 1964 he was awarded the Saint Exupéry Order of Merit by the French government and was donated 5 Catalina aircraft that were in the Fiji Islands as war surpluses, which increased the regular air service. Parragué was invited to join LAN Chile as director of navigation in addition to operating his company for 35 years and went into permanent retirement in 1978.