Dante Nannini Sandoval
Credits to Hispanic Professional Pilots Association
via email from Juan Manuel Quesada F. 11-11-04
I would like to give you some information on the Guatemalan aviator, Dante Nannini Sandoval, who seems to have been lost to history: He was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala on September 13, 1888, he studied to be an aviator in the "Moisant School of Aviation" and received his "Aero Club of America" license No. 265 on September 1, 1913. He returned to Guatemala, along with the Moisant instructor Murvin C. Wood and the mechanic E.N. Bang, to establish the first aviation school in Guatemala. From June 30,1914 to June 1915, he made several flights in a Blériot XI aeroplane, which he had bought from Moisant, thus becoming the first Guatemalan to fly solo in our country. When Nannini Sandoval andMurvin C. Wood retrieve after June 30 of 1915,no before Shakir Saliba Jerwan came to Guatemala, who was and instructor in the "Moisant" and continued teaching here with the Blériot XI until June 30 of 1918. ( date absolutely confirmed )
The accident that Jerwan had in Guatemala, didn't happen in the Blériot, as is reported on the web page, but rather in another airplane re-constructed in Guatemala from the remains of a Nieuport, also bought from Moisant. In 1916,Minerly Wilson, another U.S.A. pilot, came to Guatemala to show a new airplane, the "Moisant Blue Bird", but the ceiling of this airplane was 3,600 ft., and our city is at 5,000 ft., so he crashed and suffered serious injuries.
On September 18, 1915, Nannini Sandoval joined the Italian army as a volunteer combat pilot. He made numerous combat flights and shot down three enemy airplanes and an observation balloon. He was decorated by the Italian army with several medals, including the silver medal. I have the certificates of combats and the medals.
Considering the date Nannini Sandoval joined the Italian army, it appears as if he could have been the "first American pilot" to join a regiment of aviators during the World War I. At least, he was the first "American" on the Italian front. Even that the "Scadrille Américane- Lafayette Escadrille", former VOLUNTEERS.
At the end of the war he returned to the U.S.A. with the Italian Military Mission of Aeronautic located in America, but he died in New York, January 11, 1919, of the flu. His remains were repatriated to Guatemala where they lie today.
I always have thought, never I have been able it to verify, if Nannini Sandoval could be to "primer pilot americano" in taking participation in the first war next to the allied nations and but he is thus, because to perhaps "primer pilot americano" in taking participation in the first war next to the Italians. This I think due to the quick incorporation of Nannini Sandoval about the Italian army the 18 to it of September of 1915. Enough before the American North squadron "Lafayette" When referring to me to " americano" I mean of a person who belongs to the continent "americano", for example I am Guatemalan and nevertheless also I am "americano".
He was my uncle-grandfather. (brother of my grandmother). I have many of his documents such as cards, letters, photographs, and even a map on which he marked his aerial combats. I hope you can use the information I am sending to you and will choose to add it to your website. If you wish more information or photographs, just let me know, because I have a lot of interesting things I would like to share with you. Juan Manuel Quesada F.
Editor's Note: I am very grateful to Juan for this important and interesting story of a Guatemalan pioneer. I will wholeheartedly accept his offer to share more of the collection with us and will add it to this page as soon as possible..
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