Public expectations of the reports and images that Mittelholzer created abroad were high. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote on 22 March 1927 of the Zurich welcome for Walter Mittelholzer – the other two members of the expedition on the Africa flight, Arnold Heim and René Gouzy, are mentioned only in passing – after his return from Cape Town:
‘The stages and reports of the daring flight, which bear witness to Swiss enterprise, perseverance, adventurousness and air safety, were followed avidly throughout the country; the Swiss people know what to expect from their Mr Mittelholzer, who can not only pilot a plane across unknown countries, but also photograph and film in flight.’
Against the colonial backdrop of exotic, ‘unknown’ countries, Mittelholzer was therefore expected to embody and publicly epitomise a whole string of ascribed Swiss virtues. And the NZZ also reports on how Mittelholzer, the consummate national hero, handled the pressure of this expectation:
‘The raid, emphasised [Mittelholzer], was not a bid to break records, but an exploration in image, word and film: the expedition has returned with rich booty, conscious of having met, in the main, the expectations of the general public.’
Looking back it seems as if the memorial, though dedicated only years later, was already in the air way back then.