Crossing the Mediterranean

Down to the last gallon!
Henry Farman
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Round Britain Race
Roland Garros
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On 23 September 1913 Roland Garros (1888-1918) made the first non-stop crossing of the Mediterranean Sea by air. His machine was a Morane-Saulnier monoplane powered by a 60 h.p. Gnôme rotary engine. The machine was a normal land-plane rather than a sea-plane, so he had no floats in case anything went wrong.

Roland GarrosGarros left Saint Raphael, near Cannes, at 5:47 in the morning and headed out over the sea towards Corsica. He had a total of 55 gallons (245 l.) of fuel for the trip. At 7 o'clock he sighted Calvi, on the north of Corsica, and followed the coast southwards until the island od Sardinia came into sight. He flew over the town of Cagliari on that island at 10:45 a.m. He had been in the cramped cockpit for five hours now, and he was tempted to stop for a rest. But his goal was to cross without touching land and he doggedly pressed on, leaving the island behind him. Ahead lay another 185 miles (297 km) of open sea to the coast of Tunis. As the African shore at last came into sight his engine began to misfire - petrol was running low! He had just made it by the skin of his teeth. When he landed, at the town of Bizerta, there was only one gallon left out of the original 55.

Roland Garros
Garros after landing in Bizerta, Tunisia

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