1928: The Havana Convention







Cuba – 1928

6th Pan-American Conference

From 2 to 19 May 1927 had met in Washington the Pan-American Commission on the aerial and commercial navigation, which had drawn up the project of a Pan-American Convention of Aerial Navigation. The majority of the states represented were the same ones that had concluded six months before the CIANA (Convenio Ibero Americano de Navegación Aérea, called the Ibero-American Convention on Air Navigation, signed in Madrid in October 1926). This Pan-American Commission had not had the task as easy as the Ibero-American Conference. It also took the Paris Convention as starting point, but it carried out many modifications that were of importance.


Further to the above Commission, the Pan American Convention on Commercial Aviation had been finalized in Havana early 1928 under the auspices of the Sixth Pan-American Conference (held in Havana, Cuba, from 16 January to 20 February 1928). President Calvin Coolidge of USA arrived in Havana on 15 January and addressed the Conference on the opening day. The United States and twenty other States located in the Western Hemisphere signed the Convention on 20 February 1928. This new Convention weakened the ICAN’s (International Commission for Air Navigation) international stature.


The Havana Convention on Commercial Aviation applied exclusively to private aircraft and laid down basic principles and rules for aerial traffic, recognizing that every State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory. Clauses largely enabled USA owned airlines to freely operate services within North and South America.


Although the principles of the Havana Convention was the mutual freedom of air passage, it made however no attempt to develop uniform technical standards (the Convention had no annexes), nor was there any provision for periodic discussion on common problems through the agency of a permanent organisation (i.e. a Secretariat). The Convention did not contain provisions for continuing administrative machinery.


This Pan-American Agreement was a certain success, since, signed by 21 States, it was finally ratified by 16 of them by 1944. The Secretary General of ICAN entered into direct relations with the Director General of the Pan-American Union and it was agreed between them that the secretariat of ICAN shall regularly communicate to the Union all information it receives in exchange of documentation of the same order that the Union can gather.


Although the Paris and Havana Conventions served a useful purpose, they were seen to be no longer adequate for the years after World War II, because of the immense wartime development of aerial transport. The Convention on International Civil Aviation signed at Chicago on 7 November 1944 superseded them; there was some readiness to concede that commercial air rights as well as technical and navigational regulations should be governed by international agreement.


Cuba issued a set of ten stamps to commemorate this Conference. The centring of most of the stamps of this issue is fair.


Cuba – 1928 - Scott #C2

It is interesting to note that, during the Sixth Pan-American Conference, the Lindbergh Week was held from 8 to 15 February 1928 in Havana. Charles Lindbergh stopped at Havana on 8 February on a Good Will Tour. On the same day, Cuba issued Scott #C2 (carmine rose, Philadelphia Navy Yard PN-9 seaplane over Havana Harbour overprinted in black with LINDBERGH / FEBRERO 1928). See below the First Day Covers.


World known pilot, Charles A. Lindbergh arrived in Havana from Haiti piloting the Spirit of St. Louis on his Goodwill Tour of the Caribbean and stopped there from 8 to 13 February. The Eight February was known as Lindbergh Day. On 12 February 1928, President Gerardo Machado y Morales flew over Havana, with Charles Lindbergh.


Following his Atlantic crossing, Lindbergh visited many countries in his plane; he had the national flags of each country painted in the fuselage. The Cuban flag was the last one; following his trip to Cuba, Lindbergh retired "The Spirit of St. Louis" and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution, where it is exhibited today at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.


Cuba – 2 February 1928 – First Day cover

Special imprint for the Sixth Pan-American Conference



Cuba – 8 February 1928 – Visit of Charles Lindbergh at Havana