Today in Transportation History – March 2, 1932: Costa Rica’s First National Airline is Born

Costa Rica’s first nationally operated airline, Empresa Nacional de Transportes Aéreos (ENTA), was established by an American émigré named William Schoenfeldt. The airline made its debut a little over two decades after the first-ever plane flight in the Central American country had taken place.

When ENTA began operations, it provided only intermittent flight service between Costa Rica’s capital city of San José and various towns throughout the country. This situation changed after Costa Rican pilot Roman Macaya launched a rival national airline, Aerovías Nacionales, in 1934. ENTA responded to its new competitor by starting to offer flights on a scheduled basis. Over the next several years, both ENTA and Aerovías Nacionales helped shape and strengthen the Costa Rican domestic airline network.

When Schoenfeldt stepped down from leading ENTA in 1935, Eric Murray took over for him. It was under Murray’s leadership that ENTA began providing international flights to the cities of David, Panama, and Managua, Nicaragua, in 1936. By 1940, ENTA’s fleet consisted of three Fokker Trimotor airliners; five Ford Trimotor planes; five Travel Air planes; and a Boeing Model 40B-4 aircraft. During that same year, ENTA and Aerovías Nacionales merged their operations. Just a few months later, however, the international airline Transportes Aéreos Centroamericanos – established in Honduras in 1931 – purchased the combined ENTA/Aerovías Nacionales enterprise.

One thought on “Today in Transportation History – March 2, 1932: Costa Rica’s First National Airline is Born

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  1. Roman Macaya is my great great uncle. What many people don’t know because it’s not advertised a lot in books or on websites is that it wasn’t just him. His brother (my great grandfather) opened and started the airport with Roman. My great grandfather took care of everything financial and other stuff too. The reason he doesn’t get hardly any credit for opening the airport is because he didn’t do the the big flight. I have many photos of my great great aunt and uncle, my great grandfather, and my great grandmother at the airport, standing with planes, and on parades after huge accomplishments. For me personally I feel almost betrayed on my great grandfathers behalf that he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, and that his brother gets all of it.

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