Emilio Salazar

Historical Sketch of Emilio Salazar

Emilio Salazar (1922-2004) was born on October 28, 1922 in Havana, Cuba, to parents Emilio R. Salazar and Enriqueta Rupia. Like his father, Emilio (called Emilito by the family) attended Manhattan College in New York City in approximately 1938, where he learned the English language. An avid follower of aviation since Charles Lindberg visited Havana in 1928, Emilio began building model planes and won a national award for model airplane design and construction in December 1943. He attended a private pilot’s course at the National Academy of Civilian Aviation in Havana, and earned his private pilot’s license on December 22, 1944. Emilio came to the United States in 1944 to enroll in the Inter-American Aviation Training Program at Purdue University. He was at Purdue at the end of World War II, training in Waco UPF-7 biplanes. Training continued after the war, and Emilio completed the program on April 16, 1946. While at Purdue, he met Jean Mary Szamecki and they were married on April 29, 1947 in South bend, Indiana. He also became a U.S. citizen.

Emilio went on to work as a ferry pilot for Piper Aircraft Company in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania in October 1946. In February 1947 he was employed by Lockwood Field, Inc., in Frankfort, Indiana, as a private and commercial pilot instructor. The following year he began working for South Bend Flying Service in South Bend, Indiana, as a charter airplane pilot and flying instructor. His first child Edward Emilio Salazar was born in the summer of 1948. He later worked for Capital Airlines, but was let go by the company in 1950 for not having been born in the United States. He then returned to Cuba, where he remained with his growing family for approximately ten years. While there, he worked as a pilot for Cubana Airlines (Havana), a subsidiary of Pan American World Airways.

In 1956, Emilio participated in special experimental high altitude airport operation tests conducted by Vickers Aircraft Ltd. and Cubana Airlines in Mexico City. In that year his second child John Joseph Salazar was born.  In the summer of 1959 his third child Loretta Ann Salazar was born. In November of that year, he was promoted to Captain on the Douglas DC-3 regular scheduled passenger routes throughout Cuba. The family left Cuba in June 1960 due to communism. He returned to the United States and began working as a pilot for the Purdue Aeronautical Corporation in September 1960. He served as a co-pilot on experimental test flights and later on operational flights of the Midwest Program of Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI) at Purdue University. He operated DC-6s and DC-3s for Purdue in the early 1960s, and in June of 1963 he was promoted to Captain on the Douglas DC-3. In October of that year he began providing flying instruction for the Purdue Aeronautical Corporation and later the Purdue Airlines. Along with a large group of pilots from Purdue, Emilio was trained on the DC-9 during December 1968 and January 1969 by Eastern Airlines in Miami. After Purdue Airlines ceased operations in April 1971, the family moved to Dallas where Emilio joined Southwest Airlines, where he piloted the first flight of the newly reformed airline out of Love Field in Dallas, Texas, on June 18, 1971. His last flight with Southwest Airlines was on October 27, 1982, when, per FAA regulations, he retired at age 60. There was a large celebration at Love Field and many of his family members attended. Jean died in Dallas on November 17, 2002 and Emilio died in Dallas, Texas, on April 15, 2004. Both Emilio’s and Jean’s remains are at Cedar Grove in Notre Dame, Indiana.


Thanks to Purdue University Libraries Archives and Special Collections for the source of this document (edited by John Salazar to add family details)


Bay of Pigs Letter      Envelope

Bay of Pigs Letter English Translation