Aerial photography had a special place in the business of the legendary former Swiss airline Swissair. Walter Mittelholzer (1894- 1937), aviation pioneer and one of Swissair's founders, trained as a photographer before turning to aviation. The airline had a specialised subsidiary, Swissair Photo AG, producing well over 100,000 pictures between 1931-2001, when Swissair ceased operations, and still exists as an independent enterprise, BSF Swissphoto. The photographs show landscapes, towns and villages, and mountains, but also industrial plants, infrastructures, and individual buildings in Switzerland and abroad. Swissair - Aerial Photography features around 300 striking, beautiful and informative images, revealing changes in landscape and settlements over nearly a century. It is also an inventory of lost elements making a landscape, untamed rivers, orchards, receding glaciers or vanished historical buildings that shows how an idyllic agricultural country turned into one of the most densely inhabited places over a few decades.
With an introductory essay that explores the content of the collection now held at ETH Bibliothek and what can be read from these images today, Swissair - Aerial Photography provides an illuminating look at the history of aerial photography in Switzerland.
Ruedi Weidmann, born 1966, studied social history and history of economics in Zurich and Berlin. He works as a freelance editor and publicist and is a specialist in architectural and social history, preservation of buildings and history of transportation.