Jorge Alejandro Newbery was born on May 27, 1875 in the family home located on Florida Street in Buenos Aires. He was the son of an American, Ralph Newbery, and an Argentine, Dolores Malargie. At the age of eight he visited the United States alone and saw, dazzled, the inauguration of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883. Upon his return, he studied at the Scottish school of San Andrés de Olivos, obtaining a secondary degree in bachelor in 1890.
He then traveled to the United States again to study engineering at Cornell University. In 1893 he continued at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, where he was a student of Thomas Alva Edison and in 1895 he obtained the degree of electrical engineer. Upon returning to Argentina he began working as head of the Río de la Plata Light and Traction Company.
In 1897 he entered the Argentine Navy as an electrical engineer. In addition, he served as a swimming teacher at the Naval Academy, and in 1899 the Navy sent him to London to acquire electrical equipment. His career in the Navy lasted until 1900 when he was appointed General Director of Electrical, Mechanical and Lighting Installations of the Municipality of the City of Buenos Aires, a public function that he would perform until his death.
In 1904 he held the chair of Electrotechnics at the National Industrial School (later the Otto Krause Technical School), which had been created and directed by the engineer Otto Krause in 1893. That same year he traveled again to the United States to attend the first International Electricity Congress, held in the city of Saint Louis, where he was vice president of the "Transmission of Power and Light" section and in which he presented a work entitled General considerations on the municipalization of lighting services, which would be included in the Annals of the Argentine Scientific Society.
In 1906, Newbery participated again in this congress, this time in London, where the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) was established with headquarters in that city.
In 1913, Newbery participated in the IEC in Berlin, Germany, and upon his return he was named president of the Honorary Electrotechnical Commission of Argentina. On October 18 of that same year, together with a group of twenty-five specialists, he co-founded the Argentine Electrotechnical Committee, national representative of the IEC. That same day they also founded the Argentine Electrotechnical Association (AEA).
Jorge Newbery began his passion for mastering the air when he met the Brazilian aeronaut Alberto Santos Dumont. On December 25, 1907, Jorge Newbery and Aarón Anchorena crossed the Río de la Plata in the balloon El Pampero to land in Conchillas, Uruguay. The crossing of the Río de la Plata became a popular event. El Pampero came from the Sociedad Sportiva Argentina, located in Palermo where the Argentine Polo Field is today.
A few days later, on January 13, 1908, the Argentine Aero Club was created, chaired by Aarón de Anchorena, with Jorge Newbery as second vice president, and president from 1909 until his death in 1914. The ACA was located in the fifth Villa Ombués of Ernesto Tornquist (today the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany), in the San Benito neighborhood, near the Barrancas de Belgrano. On October 17, his brother Eduardo Newbery, in the company of Sgt ° 1 Romero, got lost with El Pampero and their bodies were never found.
On April 9, 1909 he wrote the first journalistic article on aviation in Argentina, titled "Aeronáutica" and published in the newspaper El Nacional.
Despite the tragedy and public opinion that began to consider balloon flight as excessively dangerous, Newbery prepared a new balloon, El Patriota, and revitalized ballooning with the collaboration of socialist deputy Alfredo Palacios. His persistence in flying will be the direct cause of his divorce that same year.
Shortly after, another balloon, the Huracán, would join. With the latter, on December 28, 1909, Newbery broke the South American record for duration and distance by traveling 550 kilometers in 13 hours, joining Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, and placing himself in fourth place in the world for suspension time and in sixth place in route. This balloon "el Huracán" gave the name to one of the popular soccer clubs of Buenos Aires, Club Atlético Huracán, founded on November 1, 1908 and nicknamed El Globo", of which Newbery was honorary president.
Newbery would total 40 balloon ascensions in three years. Shortly after, in tribute to his brother, he ordered the construction of another balloon, the Eduardo Newbery, of 2,200 cubic meters, the largest that has ever been raised in Argentina.
In 1910 Newbery obtained his pilot's license (brevet), but continued to make balloon ascensions until 1912. From that year on he dedicated himself exclusively to aviation. As a direct result of the offer of Newbery and the Argentine Aero Club to make their park available free of charge to the Ministry of War, on August 10, 1912, President Roque Sáenz Peña created the Military Aviation School, the first military air force in America. Latina. The civilian Jorge Newbery and lieutenant colonels Enrique Mosconi and M. J. López were the first directors of the Military Aviation School, installed in the Palomar de Caseros.
On March 1, 1914, while he was making a demonstration prior to crossing the Andes Mountains the next month, he died when his plane fell on the Los Tamarindos airfield, as the current area of El Plumerillo was then known. in the district of Las Heras, Mendoza, when he crashed to the ground in a Morane-Saulnier plane that he himself was driving. He was 38 years old. Jorge Newbery had arrived in Mendoza to study the first crossing of the Cordillera by plane. The news arrived that night of a Sunday parade in Buenos Aires, causing collective anguish over the death of a pioneer.
It should be noted that the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa Lugano can be considered to have been the cradle of Argentine aviation, a slogan that the Buenos Aires town of El Palomar carries today for the seat of the I Air Brigade, which was once the Military Aviation School.
Newbery also excelled in boxing, swimming, motor racing, fencing, and rowing, among other sports.
As director of the Lighting Service of the Municipality of the City of Buenos Aires, he was in favor of the municipalization of the lighting service, against what was carried out at that time, which consisted of granting the service to private companies.
Newbery also dedicated himself to the study of solutions for locomotion and traffic in the city of Buenos Aires, in 1908, proposing the elimination of trams and promoting new mass transportation techniques.
As a scientist, Newbery wrote for the Argentine Scientific Society. In 1906, he published a series of articles on the nascent artificial graphite industry. In 1908 he published a study on the manufacture of incandescent electric lamps called zirconium and other metal filaments based on his own laboratory tests, in order to implement them in the country.
In 1910, in collaboration with the chemist Justino Thierry, he wrote a scientific-industrial book entitled Oil. In the book, the authors maintain the need to reserve oil areas for the State.
Newbery has been considered the first non-political popular idol that Argentina generated. Crowds gathered to watch his aerial exploits. After his tragic death, Newbery collaborated in establishing his status as an idol in Argentina, as would later happen with Carlos Gardel. His funeral in Recoleta Cemetery was a massive event never before seen for a person not related to political activity. A mausoleum financed by public donations was built in 1937 in La Chacarita Cemetery.
He has also been one of the most mentioned people and to whom the most tangos have been dedicated. Among them, we cannot fail to mention the reference that Celedonio Flores makes of him in Corrientes and Esmeralda, when he mentions him as "the cajetilla" (slang: rich and fine young man) who "hit the hell out of" the "handsome" ones. (men with knives and fights) who "stopped" there at the beginning of the 20th century. Other tangos dedicated to Newbery are "Jorge Newbery", by Aquiles Barbieri, "Prendete del Aeroplano", by José Escurra, "De Pura Cepa", by Roberto Firpo, "Newbery", by Luciano Ríos, "Un memoria a Newbery", by José Arturo Severino, "Tu Sueño", by Eduardo Arolas, "El Pampero", by Luis Sanmartino.
A film was made about his life, Beyond the Sun (1975), by Hugo Fregonese, starring Germán Kraus.
In 1980, the Konex Foundation awarded his deceased figure the Konex Honor Award, for his contribution to the history of Argentine sports.
In the Villa Lugano neighborhood was where Newbery began his first exploits in aviation and therefore on the Dellepiane Highway very close to Avenida Gral. Paz a monument to the historic pilot was erected.
The Jorge Newbery Airport in the city of Buenos Aires, also known as Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, is also currently named after him, in recognition of his pioneering work in promoting aviation in Argentina.
And the Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires annually presents the Jorge Newbery Awards to the most outstanding athletes of the year.
Larra, Raúl (1975). Jorge Newbery. Buenos Aires: Schapire.
Houssay, Bernardo. «El ingeniero Jorge Newbery». Club del Progreso. Archivado desde el original el 12 de diciembre de 2007. Consultado el 14 de diciembre de 2007.
Bruno Cespi. «El tango y los hechos cotidianos». Todo Tango. Archivado desde el original el 29 de marzo de 2014. Consultado el 14 de diciembre de 2007.