Nuevo Pudahuel

Brief historical review of Commodore Arturo Merino Benitez


Commodore Arturo Merino Benítez, was born in Chillán on May 17, 1888 and died in Santiago in 1970.

Being very young he joined the military school, following career in brilliant form until reaching the title of lieutenant colonel in the army, general and commander in Chief of the air force of Chile.

His interest in aviation began at an early age. In 1918, as an artillery captain and staff officer, he published a paper named: on future proportionality of different weapons, where his interest and his faith of effectiveness and influence of air power in the following years.

Three are the organizations created by him, which marked a milestone in the development of national aeronautics, and therefore, in the progress of whole nation:

  • The Air club of Chile, founded on May 5, 1928, which brought a reorganization of civil aviation. Also, it allowed our youth to have access to an activity previously accessible only to people with the appropriate economic means.

  • The Aeropostal Line Santiago-Arica, founded on March 3, 1929, which allowed shortening the huge distances that hampered human and commercial activities throughout the country. There are no more than 12 airlines in the world that are as old as the national airline, (as it was later called). Facts like this, graph us how this man was ahead of his time.

  • The air force of Chile, created on March 21 of 1930, the fourth in the world, preceded only by those of England, France and Italy. Commodore Arturo Merino Benítez, was his first Commander in Chief, and the prestige of chilean military aviation under his command, was such, that it was considered the best organization in Latin America.

According aerial activity, during 1927, He made series of flights to the southern cities, uniting cities as Parral, Talca, Linares, Concepcion, Nacimiento, Osorno and Puerto Montt.

On May 10, 1929, he made the first non-stop flight from Arica to Santiago. Between January 26 and 27, 1930, he became the first aviator to perform an assault on Magallanes, marking a significant event in flights to such inhospitable places.

His great vision led him to propose the creation of an air ministry, an organization dedicated to coordinate and grouping aeronautical services in its varied range of activities as military, commercial, civil, etc.

  • He was the first aviation undersecretary and transport minister, in the country.

  • Thanks to his perseverance, it was possible for the curtis airplane company to be built in our country, allowing numerous curtiss D-12 falcon and hawk.

  • Training and combat bi-planes to be manufactured. In 1952, he was named president of Lan-Chile again. His ideas of improvement lead him to acquire the first four douglas DC6B four-engineers arriving in the country, which allowed the company to carry out the first commercial flight to the Antarctic, to order daily flights to Magallanes, and to establish posts in Puerto Montt and Balmaceda, Whose regional services begin connecting border points such as Funtaleufú, Alto Palena, Cochrane, Chile Chico, Ancud, Castro and others.

So vast is the work of this visionary aviator, that it's difficult to make a summaty in a few lines. It remains to be said that the great work of comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez is perpetuated and enhanced by Decree Law No. 3245 dated February 13, 1980, in which it is arranged to name the principal airport of Chile with the name of: “Arturo Merino Benitez Airport.”