Mario Stoppani's Record Flight
On December 28/29th, 1938 Mario Stoppani and his crew established a new flight record. They flew from Cadiz in Spain along the African coast to Caravelas in Brazil on a Cant Z.506B. The flight lasted 26 1/2 hours and covered a distance of 3786 nm.
Mario Stoppani, together with his crew, arrived in Natal on February 1, 1938 after a trip to various Brazilian cities. His arrival in Natal created quite a stir and a celebration party was given in his honor.
On that day Mario Stoppani and Enrico Comani were awarded the Italian "Medaglia d'oro al valore aeronautico" . According to it.wikipedia.org the official wording to honor Mario Stoppani is as follows:
«Con un rapidissimo volo di 7.000 km senza scalo, dalla Spagna all'America Latina conquistava all'Italia il primato di distanza per idrovolanti»
— Regio Decreto dell'1/2/1938
It is currently unclear whether Demetrio Iaria and Renato Pogliani also received a medal but it seems very likely.
On February 2, 1938 Mario Stoppani left Natal early in the morning.
They planned to fly to Bathurst (now Banjul) in The Gambia.
After only 4 hours into the flight they experienced engine problems and decided to return. At first they headed for Fernando de Noronha and then continued on to Natal.
About 3 hours after they made the decision to head back radio operator Demetrio Iaria sent out an SOS. Another SOS transmission was picked up a little later but no contact could be established with the I-LAMA.
As it turned out the plane crashed into the sea and caught fire. Only Mario Stoppani was found alive. He was clinging to the wreckage. Sharks were all over the area. Amidst high waves Kurt Grosschopff and his crew landed their Dornier Wal flying boat close-by and managed to get Mario Stoppani on board.