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The flying photographer


Walter Mittelholzer, son of a baker from St. Gallen, did an apprenticeship as a photographer. Then he became a military and civilian pilot and ultimately a great pioneer in aviation. Throughout his life he combined flying with photography. In 1926 he flew together with a geologist, a mechanic and the writer René Gouzy by seaplane from Zurich to Cape Town. The flight, an adventurous undertaking, took 76 days. Mittelholzer documented each leg photographically – and sent the photos while underway to newspapers and magazines in Switzerland. As co-founder of Swissair in 1931, he became a national hero.

The exhibition “The Flying Photographer” about Mittelholzer can be seen at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich until 7 October 2018. The ETH Library preserves the photographic legacy of Mittelholzer. More than 18,000 pictures are available online.