To Cape Town in 1926
Swiss aviation pioneer, Walter Mittelholzer, began his epic flight from Switzerland over the Mediterranean and the African continent to Cape Town in a Dornier Merkur on 7 December 1926. The trip took him 77 days, and was the first time ever that an aircraft traversed the whole of Africa. Mittelholzer did not embark on the journey to beat any records, but to increase awareness of Africa in the rest of the world, and to promote air travel.
Dornier-Werke Friedrichshafen and Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) in Munich were the main sponsors of the flight. Because there were no landing facilities along
the route, and Mittelholzer could not count on any form of technical or other support along the way, the Dornier Merkur Schweiz was converted into a flying boat so that he was at least independent of airstrips.
It was a challenging voyage. Mittelholzer had a compass and 1:1,000,000 scale map as his only navigation aids. There was no infrastructure, which is why the trip was planned to follow the Nile, the great African lakes and the open sea. Mittelholzer made 23 stops along the way, but his Dornier Merkur and its BMW engines did the whole trip without any mechanical problems, arriving safely in Cape Town on 21 February 1927.