24 May 1910 – death of Émile Taddéoli, Swiss aviation pioneer

On 24th May 1910, Swiss aviation pioneer Émile Taddéoli was killed in an aviation accident, while performing a flying display with SIAI S.13 aeroplane at Romanshorn.

Pierre Émile Taddéoli was born on 8th March 1879 in Geneva, Switzerland. Similarly to other aviation pioneers, Taddéoli from his early age was showing interest in mechanics and technological innovations. He started with cycling, then designed a prototype of a motorcycle. In 1895, he became a mechanic and a car driver.

In 1909, inspired by pioneering achievements of Alberto Santos-Dumont and Louis Blériot, Taddéoli moved to France and took flying lessons at Blériot´s school. One year later, he bought a Blériot XI monoplane and began to participate in aviation meetings in Italy, France and Portugal. In addition, Taddéoli started to fly around Switzerland, being the first to fly over Geneva, as well as receiving a few prizes for flight duration achievements.

In October of 1910, Taddéoli received his official Swiss pilot´s license, the second one in the country (after Ernest Failloubaz). In the same month, he won several domestic aviation awards for flight altitude, duration and speed. In addition, Taddéoli made the first attempt to fly over the Alps, but unfortunately failed.

Money he earned for flying displays and the prizes he won, allowed Taddéoli to buy another aircraft, a Morane-Borel monoplane. He used it for even more demonstration flights and to achieve another domestic altitude record of 3,000 feet (900 metres).

In 1911, Taddéoli started to work on his own design of a seaplane he named La Mouette, as well as made some experiments with Dufaux biplane equipped with floats. Regrettably, on 26th March 1912, his La Mouette was damaged during the first take-off and Taddéoli abandoned that project.

Ernst Frick, Émile Taddéoli (in the middle) and Alfred Comte, probably in front of the Savoia FBA, CH-18 of Avion-Tourisme SA (photo: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv/Stiftung Luftbild Schweiz / LBS_SR02-10112 / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Nevertheless, he continued to participate in aviation meetings and air shows, despite some bad publicity such displays received in the Swiss press. That negative feedback was caused by several fatal accidents that happened during the domestic air shows.

In about two years, Taddéoli participated in forty-five aviation meetings. He also wanted to join the Swiss armed forces but was refused due to the fact he was married.

In 1914, Taddéoli became a test pilot at Società Idrovolanti Alta Italia (SIAI), the Italian aviation manufacturer, later known as Savoia and then SIAI-Marchetti. There, he could return to his passion for hydroplanes, as SIAI was one of the leading producers of seaplanes at the time. According to Wikipedia, the time Taddéoli spent as the test pilot, resulted in more than 2,700 flight tests and flight distance of about 150,000 kilometres.

In January of 1919, Émile Taddéoli was the first to cross the Apennine Mountains in a seaplane. A few months later, he flew with passenger on board from Lago Maggiore to Lake Geneva, flying over Mont Blanc. Both achievements were made in his SIAI S.13, two-seat reconnaissance flying boat.

In July of 1919, Taddéoli became director and chief pilot in Avion Tourisme SA and, in October of the same year, he was appointed the chief pilot in Ad Astra Aero S.A. – the aviation company established by Oskar Bider and Fritz Rihner and focused on sightseeing flights with flying boats.

On 24th May 1920, Émile Taddéoli was performing a flying display at an air show in Romanshorn, Switzerland. At an altitude of about 700 metres, his SIAI S.13 broke apart in mid-air. The Swiss aviation pioneer and his mechanic, Y. Giovanelli, were killed on the spot.

Cover photo: Émile Taddéoli, ca. 1920 (photo: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv/Stiftung Luftbild Schweiz / LBS_SR02-10110 / CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped)