Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Walter Mittelholzer 13.2.1977
On November 5, 1919 he co-founded an air-photo and passenger flight business, Comte, Mittelholzer, and Co. In 1920 this firm merged with the financially stronger Ad Astra Aero. Mittelholzer was the director and head pilot of Ad Astra Aero which later became Swissair.
He made the first North-South flight across Africa. It took him 77 days. Mittelholzer started in Zürich on December 7, 1926, flying via Alexandria and landing in Cape Town on February 21, 1927. Earlier, he had been the first to do serious aerial reconnaissance of Spitsbergen, in a Junkers monoplane, in 1923. On December 15, 1929 he became the first person to fly over Mt. Kilimanjaro, and planned to fly over Mount Everest in 1930. In 1931, Mittelholzer was appointed technical director of the new airline called Swissair, formed from the merger of Ad Astra Aero and Balair. Throughout his life he published many books of aerial photographs. He died in 1937 in a climbing accident on an expedition in the Hochschwab massif in Styria, Austria.
Among other Swiss air pioneers, he is commemorated in a Swiss postage stamp issued in January 1977.