Soland deftly weaves together the theme of aviation with several major strands of Mexican history, including political and economic development, popular culture, and technological modernization. He makes a persuasive case that the rise of modern aviation helped to invest common citizens and political leaders alike in the broader effort to refashion Mexico’s national identity in the twentieth century.
The development of aviation in Mexico reflected more than a pragmatic response to the material challenges brought on by the 1910 Revolution. It was also an effective symbol for promoting the aspirations of the new elite who attained prominence during the war and who fixated on technology as a measure of national progress. The politicians, industrialists, and cultural influencers in the media who made up this group molded the aviator into an avatar of modern citizenship. The figure of the pilot as a model citizen proved an adept vessel for disseminating the values championed by the official party of the Revolution and validating the technological determinism that underpinned its philosophy of development. At the same time, the archetype of the aviator camouflaged problematic aspects of the government’s unification and development plans that displaced and exploited poor and Indigenous communities.
Soland provides an engaging analysis of the history of aviation in Mexico from the beginning of government regulation of the industry in the mid-to-late 1920s through the postwar period. He explores the interface between Mexican identity and the development of the aviation industry. This important book is highly recommended.