In 1909, Louis Blériot crossed the English Channel on board his Blériot XI. This archetypal single-engine aeroplane from the very beginning of aviation was present at the AIR14 Payerne show in Switzerland on Saturday 6th September. The aircraft rekindled the glorious moments of its pilot, accompanied in his exploits by his Zenith watch.
A hundred years of military aviation mean a century of stories, passion and discovery... To pay tribute to one of the greatest pilots of the past century, AIR14 Payerne was proud to display the 'Mikael Carlson Blériot XI' in flight. On Saturday 6th September at 1:17 pm, its pilot Mikael Carlson brought the greatest moments of early Swiss military aviation back to life in front of 110,000 spectators. Used for civilian purposes, but also and above all for military ends, the plane was the first to perform a loop, fly across the Alps and was one of the first to drop a parachutist. The aircraft can be credited for the advent of aerobatics and it was on board this plane that Blériot achieved his feat at the beginning of the last century.
In the summer of 1909, competition was in full swing to meet the challenge set by British newspaper the Daily Mail: to cross the English Channel by air. The perfect gentlemen, Louis Blériot let Hubert Latham try first, as he had signed up before Blériot. However, Latham's attempt proved unsuccessful and on 25 July 1909 at 4:15 am, Blériot took off. He reached England in 37 minutes, his Zenith watch on his wrist.
In 1912, he declared: 'I am very satisfied with the Zenith watch I use frequently. I can’t recommend it enough for those looking for accuracy.' With Zenith having been one of the first brands to build flying instruments – particularly altimeters and on-board watches – at the start of the 20th century, it is no wonder that these two visionaries were destined to meet.
This opinion is shared by President and CEO of Zenith Aldo Magada: 'Louis Blériot and Zenith have many common values. First of all, their desire to push back boundaries and create new records. Both have always been guided by pleasure, daring and authenticity.'