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Photograph of the plane "La Croix Du Sud", by Jean Mermoz, in Natal (1934)

Photograph of the plane "La Croix Du Sud", by Jean Mermoz, in Natal (1934)

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Mermoz's legendary plane "La Croix du Sud" is in Natal.

Unpublished photograph of the La Croix du Sud plane with an annotation in French on the back. Christmas, September 18, 1934. 17 cm x 12.3 cm. Perfect state. Single piece.

Translation of annotation from French to Portuguese

"Croix-du-Sud moored in the river, the mechanic makes one last inspection."

The world of aviation has always aroused dreams and curiosity, and it still does today, when we buy our tickets online and follow the route of planes in real time via the internet. But there was a time when the leather seats of aircraft exuded a scent of novelty, and venturing into the skies required a lot of courage. In those distant years, who would say that it was a Frenchman who gave wings to Brazil.

His name was Jean Mermoz (1901 - 1936), and although he names numerous colleges today, his adventures were far from academic benches. In fact, in 1920, at the age of 19, Mermoz failed the entrance exam, and that was the only reason he enlisted to be an army aviator. However, military discipline did not appeal to him, and four years later he left the army and went to seek work in civil aviation. Although talented, Mermoz was almost not hired by Linhas Aéreas Latécoère in 1924, since, in his admission test, his acrobatics displeased the strict director of the company, Didier Daurat. However, after a small correction, Mermoz performed a normal and perfect flight.

From then on, the pilot started working as a sky postman and accumulating adventure stories. Early in his career, Mermoz flew over a vast part of the African continent, where, in 1926, he suffered an accident, fell over the Sahara and was taken hostage by a group of Tuareg rebels. Luckily he managed to escape. But Latécoère had plans for South America, and Mermoz soon became head of pilots in the region. On one of his flights in the south of the continent, the engine failed and the pilot had to land in the middle of the Andes Mountains. There he stayed for 50 hours trying to fix the engine, until he had the idea of ​​​​throwing the plane off a cliff to get momentum to fly. It's almost impossible to believe that the plan worked!

But Mermoz's biggest adventure was yet to come, to establish the connection between Europe and South America it was necessary to fly non-stop. Thus, Mermoz made the first non-stop transatlantic air mail trip in history! A flight of more than 21 hours between Senegal and Natal, in Brazil.

Since then, the French driver has become an illustrious visitor. He always returned to Natal, where he made friends and even lived in a house of his own. There, Mermoz rested from his long flights, practiced tennis and swam in the beautiful Natal beaches. His plane, the Croix-du-Sud, became a dear acquaintance in the city. As we can see in the unpublished photograph from 1934 that shows the prestigious plane shortly before taking off from Natal. The photo was probably taken by one of the crew, as the back of it reads: "Croix-du-Sud moored in river, mechanic makes one last inspection".

Unfortunately, in 1936, Mermoz disappeared on that same plane, on a flight towards Natal. The Croix-du-Sud did not resist the trip and fell into the sea, none of its crew was found. Years later, it was discovered that Mermoz's plane had been sabotaged by the Uruguayan Nazi Party. Even though he left us very young, Mermoz became unforgettable, his stories and adventures inspire dreams, and his accomplishments began to connect Brazil to the rest of the world.

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