“Baboso,” the young lieutenant-in-charge snarled through his teeth as he sped towards the plane that was taxiing to the end of the runway. In order to make a show of his anger, he purposely slammed the brakes, squealing the tires, when he reached it.
The twin-prop now sitting at the end of the Spanish military airfield on the evening of July 11th, 1936, had just made an unauthorized landing after a harrowing 10 hour journey from England. It had found its way to Espinho by road maps, nearly icing-up over the Pyrenees. Lieutenant Rojo didn’t care though, what story the pilot was going to spin for him. He had every intention of seizing the plane and arresting everyone aboard. This was no time for foolishness in his country. He started into a tirade of curses even before the door was opened.
The pilot stepped down from the plane first and got the worst of the tongue-lashing. It continued as four more men came behind him. The voice went silent though when two young, smiling women poked their heads through the opening. They giggled as they hopped onto the tarmac and Lieutenant Rojo removed his hat and gave a toothy grin.
After a few minutes of exaggerated graciousness and a lot of understanding nods, Lieutenant Rojo offered to escort the lost tourists to dinner at a hidden little restaurant in Porto, as long as they promised to depart quietly first thing in the morning.
The plane and its crew of “tourists” did depart the next morning, quietly. The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide made several more unscheduled stops over the next eight days, ending in the Spanish Moroccan city of Tetuan, where General Francisco Franco hopped down and took command of the uprising against the new and vengeful republican government.