September 23, 1913
French aviator Roland Garros established two new airborne records when he successfully undertook the longest overseas plane trip up to that point in time and also became the first person to fly across the Mediterranean Sea. The 24-year-old pilot, flying on his own in a two-seat Morane-Saulnier G monoplane, departed the Fréjus Aerodrome in the commune of Saint-Raphaël in southeastern France at 5:52 that Tuesday morning for Tunisia.
Garros was very confident about his prospects for success in this historic flight. He even refused to have floaters affixed to his plane as a precaution in case he had to descend into the water. Garros also turned down an offer from the French government to have a cruiser travel in the Mediterranean specifically to follow him and monitor his flight in the skies above. French naval authorities, however, did arrange to have torpedo boats sail along Garros’ line of flight just to be on the safe side.
While originally planning to stop at the city of Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia to refuel, Garros – feeling assured that there was still enough gasoline to get him to the African coast – continued flying non-stop. In what the British journal Flight confirmed was “a safe landing,” Garros made it to the port city of Bizerte (also known as Bizerta) in Tunisia at 1:45 that afternoon.
Garros’ record-setting flight of seven hours and 53 minutes covered approximately 460 miles (740.3 kilometers) altogether. The Associated Press reported at the time, “The flight is regarded by aviators and military men as an amazing performance of motor, aeroplane, and air-man.”
Additional information on Roland Garros’ record-setting flight across the Mediterranean Sea in 1913 is available at https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1913/1913%20-%201052.html.
For more information on Garros and his aviation career, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Garros_(aviator).