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France was home to pioneering aviators as well as aircraft manufacturers. One of the most acclaimed pilots was Dieudonné Costes (1892-1973): on 28th October 1926, he broke a world distance record by flying from Paris to Iran, travelling 3,353 miles (5,396 km). The following year, on 10th October 1927, he left Paris with his co-pilot Joseph Le Brix (1899-1931), captain of the French Navy, for an around-the-world flight of 35,652 miles (57,410 km). In a Breguet 19GR, they flew first from France to Africa. Before successfully completing the first non-stop aerial crossing of the South Atlantic Ocean, flying from Senegal to Brazil. After several stops on their journey north, they reached San Francisco (USA), where they boarded a ship that took them to Tokyo (Japan).
The French aviators continued their journey by airplane to India and then to Europe, landing triumphantly in Paris on 14th April 1928 with their Longines chronometer on board. Joseph Le Brix attempted another record distance flight, from Paris to Tokyo with two other friends. When flying over the Ural Mountains in Russia, the engine stalled. The first member of the crew managed to save his life by using his parachute, but the second had a problem with his life-saving equipment. Le Brix did not want to abandon his co-pilot; both men died when the airplane crashed.
Joseph Le Brix (left) and Dieudonné Costes, in Saint Louis (Senegal), 14th October 1927.
Longines Hour Angle watch, gifted by Charles Lindbergh to Dieudonné Costes 1931, sold by Phillips auction house in 2015 for 143,000 CHF.