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Tue, Sep 24, 2013

French Pilot Crosses Mediterranean In WWI Replica Airplane

Followed The Flight Of Roland Garros Made In 1913

On September 27, 1913, French pilot Roland Garros took off from Fréjus in the south of France, and flew to Bizerte in Tunisia in a Morane-Saulnier G racing monoplane. His accomplishment was re-enacted Sunday by 29-year-old Baptiste Salis, who flew an exact replica of the Morane-Saulnier, albeit with an upgraded, modern engine, 500 miles in seven hours.

The French news service AFP reports that the weather conditions for the re-enactment were "perfect," and that a crowd of over 1,000 gathered in Tunisia to greet Salis when he landed.

The airplane was built by Replic'Air in France. It was said to be an exact duplicate of the 1913 airplane used by Garros for his historic flight. The airplane was built mostly of wood and covered in fabric, but it did have landing gear struts fabricated of steel tubing, which is also true to the original.

Garros went on to become a fighter pilot in WWI. He is credited with shooting down the first German aircraft in an airplane using a tractor propeller after working with Morane-Salier Works on an interrupting gear. One of Garros' airplanes was captured by the Germans after he was shot down, which is said to have led to Anthony Fokker's refinement of the interrupting gear which gave an air combat edge to the Germans later in the war.

Stade de Roland Garros in Paris ... where one of the Grand Slam of tennis tournaments is held ... is named after the pilot.

(Pictured: Roland Garros after flight to Tunisia)

FMI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Garros_(aviator)

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