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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  • Unpublished photograph of the La Croix du Sud plane with an annotation in French on the back.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 condition.
  • Unique piece.

Translation of the note from French to Portuguese

“Croix-du-Sud moored in the river, the mechanic makes a final inspection."

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

His name was Jean Mermoz (1901 - 1936), and although he now names countless schools, 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 sought work in civil aviation. Although talented, Mermoz was almost hired by Latécoère Airlines in 1924, since, in his admission test, his acrobatics displeased the company's strict director, Didier Daurat. However, after a small correction, Mermoz performed a normal and perfect flight.

From then on, the pilot began working as a sky postman and accumulating stories of adventures. At the beginning of 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 enough momentum to fly. It's almost impossible to believe that the plan worked!

But Mermoz's greatest adventure was yet to come, to establish a connection between Europe and South America it was necessary to fly non-stop. Thus, Mermoz carried out the first non-stop transatlantic air mail journey in history! A flight lasting 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 lived in his own house. There, Mermoz rested from his long flights, played tennis and swam on the beautiful beaches of Natal. His plane, the Croix-du-Sud, became a beloved acquaintance in the city. As we can see in the unprecedented photograph from 1934 that shows the prestigious plane just 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 the river, the mechanic makes a final inspection".

Unfortunately, in 1936, Mermoz disappeared on that same plane, on a flight towards Natal. The Croix-du-Sud did not survive the journey and fell into the sea, none of its crew were 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 achievements began to connect Brazil to the rest of the world. This photograph is then, in many ways, historic.

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