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RÉUNION, France: October 11, 2018. The French department has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of World War I aviator Roland Garros, who was born on the island. In 1913 he became famous for the first non-stop airplane crossing of the Mediterranean in a Morane-Saulnier monoplane.

Morane SaulnierTo mark the event a flying replica Morane-Saulnier, built by the aviation association Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis at the Ferté-Alais airfield in northern France, was flown out to Réunion’s Roland Garros Airport on an Air France B777 freighter for display at the island’s Hotel de Région in Sainte-Clotilde.

Garros started his aviation career in 1909 flying a Demoiselle (Dragonfly), an aircraft that only flew well with a small lightweight pilot. He graduated to flying Blériot monoplanes and participated in the 1911 Paris to Madrid air race and the Paris-London-Paris race, in which he came second.

On September 06, 1912 he set an altitude record of 18,410 ft. and the following year he switched to flying the faster Morane-Saulnier aircraft in which he made his famous crossing of the Mediterranean, from Fréjus in the south of France to Bizerte in Tunisia.

He joined the French Army in 1914 and became a formidable pilot before being shot down in 1915 and a prisoner of war for the next three years. In 1918, after numerous attempts, he succeeded in escaping from captivity and rejoined the army - only to be shot down and killed near Vouziers, Ardennes on October 05 1918, a month before the end of the war and one day before his 30th birthday.

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