Roland Garros was a local boy. Renowned thanks to his exploits carried out in the aviation sector, the aviator from Reunion fought for France during the First World War.
Nowadays Roland Garros is a historical and emblematic character from Reunion Island. His flying exploits, notably during the First World War, earned him the title of “aviation pioneer” and “hero of the Great War.”
He was born on October 6, 1888 in Saint-Denis where he lived until 1900, the date on which he was obliged to leave the island to pursue his further education.
Passionate about flying, he achieved his dream in 1909 by buying a “Demoiselle” (the first aeronautical light plane) from the engineer Santos-Dumont. He then decided to sit his pilot license exams which then gave him the passport to success: world records in flight altitude, speed, distance and length! In 1913, he became the first man to have crossed the Mediterranean by plane.
War broke out in 1914 and Roland Garros, therefore, became a war pilot. He used his combat skills for France until 1918, when he died during aerial combat. He was 30 and the armistice announcing the end of the war was signed a month later.
His statue was inaugurated in Barachois, in Saint-Denis in 1926, in order to honor his memory.