Knoll Family Collection

Plutarco Elias Calles

As told to me by my Grandfather (Felix) and my Father:

In 1928, the President of Mexico, Plutarco Elias Calles, sent several individuals to the US to purchase airplanes for the Mexican Military. They contacted the Knoll Aircraft Corp. and after a demonstration, ordered one KN-1 airplane. The airplane was delivered in 1929 (sources at the Kansas Aviation Museum, the KN-1 (X9090) was delivered to a transport company. Also delivered was a KN-2 (X8899) which was forced down due to engine trouble).

On February 24, 1929 an article appeared in a Wichita newspaper with the large print stating: KNOLL TO MAKE HUGE AIR FLEET -- Big Mexican Concern Orders 35 Airplanes. It goes on to say: The new air transport company is an all-Mexican corporation, financed by Mexican capital and headed by prominent Nationalists including Senator Eleazas del Valle.

Click Headline for complete article

On February 27, 1929 an article appeared in the Wichita Beacon with a photo of the KN-2 the Headline: Leaves for Mexico City. Also a telegram was sent Via Wstern Union from Knoll Aircraft indicating the plane was held in Laredo Texas due to registration problems.

Click above article

Click Telegram for larger image

The presidency in Mexico was in a total state of turmoil. Subsequently, the payment for the airplane was never made. The 1929 stock market crash and the General Manager embezzling the entire treasury ($200,000.00 a fortune in 1929) of Knoll Aircraft, led to the collapse of the company. In late 1929 or early 1930, Calles contacted Felix with an offer of land in Mexico for payment. The land was to be used for building a new Knoll Aircraft factory in Mexico. Calles was never heard from again until 1937. He was exiled in San Diego when my Grandfather (Felix) contacted him again about the land in Mexico. Calles wrote the letter below in response. The translation was done by Enrique Medina.

LINK: Kansas Aviation Museum

Knoll Family Collection
Click on letter to view larger image

by: Enrique Medina

General P. Elias Calles
1212 Upas St.
San Diego, California

San Diego, California
March 26, 1937
Mr. Felix W. A. Knoll
Aeronautical Engineer
162 Conklin St.
Farmingdale, N. Y.

Very Esteemed Mr. Knoll,

With pleasure I respond to your kind letter of last February 28, in which you express your wishes and projects to establish an airplane factory in Mexico, and you see to send me your information on capabilities and personal background.

I have carefully examined your idea, and proceed to give you my opinion, as frank and sincere as you so requested.

For some years to come, and while the consumption of airplanes is so small in my country, I believe it will not be a business to establish such an airplane factory in Mexico.

Hoping to have satisfied your wishes, I remain your attentive friend and humble servant,

P. Elias Calles